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VIDEO: RocketMan flamboyant Concert on the Croisette from Elton John... the full story for his fans

For your eyes and your ears....Ladies and gentlemen I give you ....Elton John the Rocketman who plays the piano and sings with Taron Egerton who plays Elton in the movie! enjoy the video.

!

Elton John gave a private concert on the Croisette for a happy few gathered at Carlton Beach. The croisette was blocked, and heavy security in place for thisvery exclusive Cannes moment.

Filmfestivals is happy to share these moments with our audience...

 

 

There was great appreciation all along the panel today at the press conference for Dexter Fletcher's new Elton John biopic titled Rocketman. The film features upcoming stars Taron Egerton, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Richard Madden. Before the release of the film, many people made various assumptions about comparing its theme to that of Bohemian Rhapsody from last year. But today, director Dexter Fletcher and lead actor Taron Egerton praised the efforts and the production of the 2018 biographical blockbuster while also pointing out the differences.

 

When asked about how he prepared to play the role of Elton John, Egerton explained how he really connected with Elton both before and during production. To say that Elton was impressed with Egerton's performance seems like an understatement for the 70s pop legend was in tears during last night's premiere of the film after the two had performed a duet together for the crowd. Don't miss Rocket man in theaters May 29th!

 

Nicholas Leffel

 

PARAMOUNT PICTURES Presents

In Association with NEW REPUBLIC PICTURES

A MARV FILMS / ROCKET PICTURES Production

 

 

 

 

 

ROCKETS INTO THEATERS NATIONWIDE MAY 31, 2019

 

Directed by Dexter Fletcher

Written by Lee Hall

Produced by Matthew Vaughn, p.g.a., David Furnish, p.g.a.,

Adam Bohling, p.g.a., David Reid, p.g.a.

Executive Producers Elton John, Steve Hamilton Shaw,

Michael Gracey, Claudia Vaughn, Brian Oliver

 

CAST

Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Gemma Jones and Bryce Dallas Howard

 

RUN TIME

2 hours and 1 minute

“Rocketman” is rated R for language throughout, some drug use and sexual content.

 

FACEBOOK:  @rocketmanmovie

TWITTER:  @rocketmanmovie

INSTAGRAM: @rocketmanmovie

#Rocketman

ROCKETMAN

 

Synopsis

 

ROCKETMAN is an epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. The film follows the fantastical journey of transformation from shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John. This inspirational story – set to Elton John’s most beloved songs and performed by star Taron Egerton – tells the universally relatable story of how a small-town boy became one of the most iconic figures in pop culture. ROCKETMAN also stars Jamie Bell as Elton’s longtime lyricist and writing partner Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as Elton’s first manager John Reid, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton’s mother Sheila Farebrother.

 

PART 1: ABOUT THE PRODUCTION

 

The Birth of an Epic Musical Odyssey
WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF ROCKETMAN

 

“This movie is about when I started to become famous,” says Elton John. “It was an extraordinary and surreal time, and that’s how I wanted the film to be.”

 

It should come as no surprise that conventional movie making was never going to work for the telling of Elton John’s life story – it simply could not contain it. Elton’s transformation from the shy, working-class piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into a global music superstar was as tempestuous, outrageous, and plain dangerous as it was inspirational and brave. No regular movie was ever going to do it justice.

 

Welcome to ROCKETMAN – an epic musical odyssey that blurs the lines of fantasy and reality, fuses the worlds of music, fame and fashion, and stamps a glittery platform heel down on the cinematic rulebook. ROCKETMAN takes audiences on an uncensored journey through the life of an icon, with Elton’s most beloved songs – reimagined and updated in breakthrough musical and dramatic performances by the young cast – propelling and shaping the story.

 

“The idea,” says its director, Dexter Fletcher, “was to create something that would genuinely explode off the screen, a riotous joy-ride of imagination, celebration and drama.”

 

In ROCKETMAN, Elton John is played by Taron Egerton, delivering an astonishing performance that has seen him record new versions of some of John’s most famous songs. As the film follows Elton from his English hometown of Pinner and along the yellow brick road of fame, addiction and heartbreak, we will also meet the mother he had a troubled relationship with (Bryce Dallas Howard), his manager and onetime lover, John Reid (Richard Madden), and his legendary lyricist Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), the best friend and creative partner of over 50 years without whom John might not have survived. As Elton, who gave the cast and crew of ROCKETMAN free reign to tell his story, says: “My life has been pretty crazy. The lows were very low, the highs were very high. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much balance in between.”
 

For producer David Furnish, he knew from the beginning that Elton John was interested in telling a fantasy version of his life, something that was larger than life, not as it happened exactly, but as the fantastical version of what might have taken place. “And that was our starting point for the film that we wanted to make.”

 

For fellow ROCKETMAN producer, Matthew Vaughn, it was important to find the right way to tell the story of a completely unordinary life. And he discovered it on his first read of Lee Hall’s screenplay. “Lee had done this magnificent job,” says Vaughn, “of creating a musical that isn’t really a musical, a biopic that isn’t a biopic, a fantasy that is based on reality and a reality that is based on fantasy.”

 

As young Elton wrestles with his private image, his sexuality, his childhood troubles and his many adult addictions, he very publicly finds escape through the music that sees him explode onto the global scene.  He is empowered by an extraordinary stage persona with outrageous costumes, and a particularly unique view of the world through tinted, wide-eyed glasses. In the words of ROCKETMAN’s acclaimed music director, Giles Martin, “Elton hits the piano keys as if to punch back at the planet.”

 

The result is a film (over 10 years in the making) that is as extraordinary as its subject. “What these guys have done with my story is just astonishing,” says John. “It’s brutally honest and doesn’t pull any punches, but I can’t wait for audiences to see it and, hopefully, love it as much as I do.”

 

The Only Way to Tell His Story is to Live His Fantasy
HOW ROCKETMAN FIRST TOOK FLIGHT

 

The seeds of the project were sown over a decade ago, backstage in Las Vegas. John was there with his husband, and ROCKETMAN producer, David Furnish (the director of Tantrums and Tiaras and executive producer of stage-show Billy Elliot The Musical), for his Red Piano Show that the pair had just opened there. That show had taken the first steps of a deep dive in Elton John’s visual history, a phantasmagoria of costumes and musical iconography brought to life on the stage.

 

“And that triggered something inside Elton,” remembers Furnish. “He said to me, ‘It would be great to do a film about my life that captures that same sort of spirit.’ He didn’t want to do a straightforward biopic – he’s never been a fan of them – but he said, ‘You know, my life has been so larger than life that to tell it in a straightforward way just wouldn’t do it justice.”

 

For the next step, the pair needed someone to write the screenplay, and they knew just the man for the gig. In one of the many fateful moments that have powered this production, in 2000, John and Furnish had attended the Cannes Film Festival, and found themselves at the premiere of a small British film that would go on to do big things: Billy Elliot. (Jamie Bell, who played Billy, vividly remembers Elton John coming up to him at the party after the premiere in tears, affected deeply by the relationship between young Billy and his father in the movie.) That profound experience on the French coast had stayed with John and led to Furnish and him working with Billy Elliot’s screenwriter, Lee Hall, on their stage version, Billy Elliot The Musical, five years later.  

 

So, when it came to who should be responsible for writing this heightened take on John’s life, they were in no doubt on who to collaborate with on the story. “Lee is British and has an innate understanding of working-class Britain in the '60s, as well as the emergence of rock and roll in the '60s and '70s, and the language and the people and the way they lived,” says Furnish of the writer. “We wanted him to really get inside all of that and nail the authenticity of that time. But we also said, ‘Let's make the musical numbers big, large, fantastical.’” Crucially, they also gave Hall license to play with the chronology of John’s musical catalogue, to not feel obliged to employ the tracks in the order that they were written, but to use the ones that best fit the “emotional truths” of the story they wanted to tell.

 

“This story covers my life from before 1960, when I was a kid, to 1990, when I went into rehab,” says John. “It’s about my life when I started to become famous. That was an extraordinary and kind of surreal time, and that’s how I wanted the film to be. I wanted it to be fun and for it to not take itself too seriously, but, on the other hand, there are a lot of serious issues that had to be addressed with my drug addiction and my life and my upbringing. We had to get the balance right. And, for me, what was really important was that the film would be a musical because music was my life.”

 

Written in the Stars
THE FORMING OF A DREAM PARTNERSHIP


With the screenplay written, John and Furnish spent nearly 10 years developing the project and had still yet to get it over the start line. Thankfully, they knew a man who knew one or two things about making enormous – and enormously successful – movies: the director and producer, Matthew Vaughn. They’d become friends over the course of Vaughn directing John in his glorious extended cameo in Kingsman: The Golden Circle, a movie that saw the music icon have delirious tongue-in-cheek fun playing up his persona. “That was very much a heightened version of Elton,” says Vaughn. “I got to know him as a greatly talented, but also really sweet and gentle man, who can perform on command.”

 

One day, over coffee – and in another of those fateful pieces of the jigsaw of ROCKETMAN’s genesis – Vaughn happened to mention that he had always wanted to make a musical. “I knew that he loved Elton and loved his music,” remembers Furnish, “so I said, ‘Look, we have this script. I'd love for you to just take a look at it and tell me what you think.’” Vaughn, a producer renowned for knowing a hit when he sees one, and with the power to get them made to their fullest potential, read it and was sold. 

 

“I got to know Elton John’s music as a boy in the ‘70s and I can really remember the first time I heard ‘Your Song’,” says Vaughn of his decision-making process. “It was such a unique voice and one of the few songs I knew the lyrics to immediately. It hit me hard as a kid. I love music, I wanted to be a musician. One of the reasons I’m doing this film is that I have been desperate to find a musical to do. If you look at my films, as a director, they are heavily influenced by music and putting pitch to music and cutting it so they merge together. And I had been trying to find the right thing. You know, if you’re going to do a musical then it has to have great music that you can build everything around. When ROCKETMAN came along, the music box for me was firmly ticked.”
 

But it wasn’t just that Vaughn had read and liked the screenplay; it was that he’d seen how it could play out from the pages. Not just that, he knew almost immediately who was going to play Elton John himself. Having turned Taron Egerton into a leading man in the Kingsman movie series, Vaughn was more aware of his capabilities than most. And, having then put Taron together with director Dexter Fletcher, for their movie about another British icon, Eddie The Eagle, Vaughn sensed instantly how powerful a creative force he could assemble for ROCKETMAN. He knew that Fletcher, who made his acting debut as a young boy in Bugsy Malone back in 1976 and continued his love-affair with musicals with his second movie as a director, Sunshine on Leith, in 2013, was the perfect choice. He also knew that Egerton bore an uncanny physical resemblance to a young Elton John. More than that, he knew the boy could sing.

 

Vaughn called Furnish. “If it was me in charge, I’d put in Taron and hire Dexter.” Furnish called him back. “How about we do it together?”

 

“It just made sense,” says Vaughn now. “Dexter and I were trying to find our next project to do together. I knew Taron, knew he could sing beautifully and I also knew that Taron’s audition piece for RADA (the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts) was performing ‘Your Song’. So, there was a connection there.” Furnish agrees. “The pieces of the puzzle started to fit together. Matthew thought, and I agreed, that the combination of Taron and Dexter would be exactly what this film needed.”

 

There was, of course, one more man who needed to be sold on the idea, Elton John himself. “Elton always says, ‘Look, I'm not a filmmaker. It’s not my world, and I'm very, very close to this story, so perhaps I can't bring the objectivity that is needed to tell it from the right perspective,’” says Furnish. What he does know is music. That is his world. The only question was whether Egerton was the right man to live in it for two years.

 

“And then I heard him,” says John, with a smile. “And it was instant. If someone was going to play me, I knew he had to be able to sing. I wanted someone who could do an interpretation of me – not just by their acting, but with my music as well. Finding someone who could do that had always been incredibly hard. But then we met Taron Egerton. He is truly unique. He is the only person who could have done this.”

Finding a Harmony
WHEN THE MUSIC MET THE MOVIES


 “Elton gave us the freedom not to stay in the confines of how he performed these classic songs,” says music producer Giles Martin. “He told me, ‘Do whatever you want. It’s yours.’”

 

The sense of kismet fueling ROCKETMAN continued when it came to enlisting someone brave and talented enough to interpret Elton John’s impeccable back catalogue for a brand new movie audience. The record producer and composer Giles Martin had been a friend of Vaughn’s since their schooldays. It turned out, he was also a friend of John and Furnish’s, the former having often worked with Martin’s father – the legendary George Martin, of Beatles fame – over the course of his long and storied career.

 

“I knew Giles would be respectful to Elton but also respectful to the movie, as well as to Dexter and Taron,” remembers Vaughn. “And I knew Giles as a very sensitive, great guy who would be able to bridge all the needs as well as be musically brilliant. Then I rang Elton up and found out that he had lived in George’s house in the Caribbean, recording there when Giles was a kid. He loved Giles and thought he would be a perfect collaborator. The dots were just lining up with people who could work together really creatively.”

 

For Martin, who remembered John spending time at his father’s studio in Montserrat when he was just a young boy, the artist has been a regular presence in his life. When Martin started out as a runner at Air Studios in London in 1989, John was there, recording with his father. Later, they would collaborate on the 1997 remake of ‘Candle in the Wind’. “And he’s always been incredibly kind to me,” says Martin. “He’s always been generous with musicians, has always taken an interest in young musicians in general.”

 

That generosity of spirit extended to the creative space John allowed Martin to play with his music, to reform it into something new. “Elton gave our team the freedom to not stay in the confines of how he has always performed these classic songs,” marvels Martin. “He wants to expand on his work. He wants interpretations done. He told me, ‘Just do whatever you want to do. It’s yours.’ His view was always, ‘I can’t wait to hear what you do. Go off and expand on it’. That was so refreshing because it meant we had the license to use the music to tell this story in a unique, non-linear way. And that’s the thing with Elton’s music – it’s completely unique. Doing this has been a bit like ‘Whack-a-mole’. You think you’re done and then you think, ‘Hang on, this could be better if I just…’ And the tracks slowly rise up. You know, this music, it is unique, not just the technique but the soul. Elton was classically trained, of course, but it’s not just that. You could lock a kid in a room and teach them piano forever, but they’d never be Elton John.”

 

Of all of Martin’s many achievements, ROCKETMAN is just maybe the one he remains most proud of. Which is no mean feat, given that this is the man who recreated The Beatles’ classic catalogue for the Las Vegas stage. “I remember,” Martin laughs. “Elton came to a run-through of the early choreography we were doing. I said to him, ‘Listen, I’ve only just done rough version of the songs for the dance numbers…’ I didn’t want to play the man rough versions of his own songs! He just said, ‘Listen, Giles, if you’re doing it, I’m happy.’ That was way up there, for me.”

 

And it’s that flexibility in approach that has really let ROCKETMAN take flight, bending convention and reshaping any preconceived notions you may have to deliver something genuinely fresh, daring and unexpected. “We are trying to say to the audience,” says Fletcher. “’Oh, you think you know the story? Really, you don’t. This is not what you think it is.’ That is far more engaging and interesting. From the first frame of the film, Elton is shown to be a completely unreliable narrator of his own life story.” 

 

As a device, it’s a fascinating insight into an array of classic tracks that people from all walks of life have long held dear to their hearts. As ROCKETMAN executive producer, Claudia Schiffer says: “I grew up to Elton’s music in the ‘80s, I worked to Elton’s music on photoshoots, and I still listen to Elton’s music today. His songs are timeless and it’s so wonderful to finally understand what’s behind the lyrics.”

 

Elton John is, as Furnish admits, not an easy man to please. So, it’s testament to the quality of every aspect of the arrangements in ROCKETMAN that Captain Fantastic himself is so delighted with the results. Egerton trained his vocals and piano skills for five months to prepare for the role. And not only did Egerton get to record his own versions of songs so loved by the world but he also got to do the work at London’s Abbey Road Studios, which is “genuinely the most holy-shit, pinch-yourself moment” of his career to date.

 

“For my part,” says Egerton, “what always excited me about this project, aside from the honor of playing Elton John, was that there was a permission for the songs to be interpreted and the storytelling to be innovative and different. And the fact that it is a musical and that the songs are sung not only as performance pieces but as moments of introspection. That’s what makes it unique. And I have loved it. I have loved every single minute. I cannot tell you how proud I am that Elton John let me interpret his songs in this way.”

 

John smiles at the enthusiasm of the team responsible for bringing his life and music to the screen with such a passion and commitment, overjoyed at what he has seen them produce. “I just left Taron to it,” he says. “I left Taron in the hands of Giles Martin, who I trust implicitly because he’s brilliant, like his dad, and I let them get on with it. I didn’t want to be over their shoulders, listening to each song. I didn’t go to any of the recording sessions. That’s not how I am, that’s not who I am. If I trust somebody artistically, I give them carte blanche to do what they want to do. And now I’ve listened to what they’ve done – and I’ve been astonished.”

 

 

Specs, Drugs and Rock and Roll
THE QUEST FOR AUTHENTICITY AND TRUTH


“My life has been pretty crazy,” says Elton John. “The lows were very low, the highs were
very high. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much balance in between...”

 

“My life has not been dull,” says Elton John, in something of an understatement. “What I wanted to get across from the movie was the incredible price of fame, the incredible effect one’s upbringing has on you, how lonely it can be and what happens if you don’t address very quickly what you're going through as a person in terms of your addiction and your behavior patterns. But there has to be a sense of humor to all this as well.”

 

For Bryce Dallas Howard, who plays Elton’s mother, Sheila Farebrother, it was that mix that immediately sold her on the project. “When I first read the script,” she says, “I was so moved by it, but also really entertained. It took me on a journey. What I appreciated was this idea of elevating the genre of the biopic, to create this fantasy that is a direct reflection of Elton John’s ethos in life. That’s the genius of it, that it represents Elton in so many different layers and ways. It’s smart, sharp, sophisticated, witty and hilarious. And that’s Elton.”

 

There was, say John and Furnish, no other way to approach the material. If they were to gloss over the dark times, then the good times wouldn’t shine as vibrantly. If they weren’t going to tell the whole truth, then what was the point of even saying anything?

 

“Totally,” says John. “It had to be candid, it had to tell the truth. This period of my life that we’re showing, I did more in those 20 years than most people do in a lifetime. I behaved like a monster at times and was completely irrational, and that’s how life is when you're an artist. But I prefer to release the honest version rather than, ‘Oh, he was so wonderful! He was so great!’ Yeah, I have been wonderful sometimes, but I’ve also done the other side of the coin and it’s important that the other side of the coin is represented. You have to take the rough with the smooth. The addictions brought out my darkest soul and I hated it – that’s why I decided to get clean and sober. The irrational behavior, the dark moods, the depression, the self-loathing came as a result of not having a balance in my life and getting totally addicted to cocaine and alcohol and bulimia and sex and whatever, and that’s represented in the film. I didn’t want to cut corners. I'm a pretty honest person, sometimes too honest for my own good.”

 

ROCKETMAN tells the story of Elton John through the prism of his own addictions, beginning with him in rehab, reflecting on a life of excess that he only just survived. As Egerton observes, “Elton John is a music icon, but we often forget that he is also a person with a very human story to tell.” That story, according to Fletcher, is one of escape; first, Reggie trying to escape his home life, then, later, trying to escape from under the persona he created in order to do so.

 

“Music was my friend in times of conflict, in times of anguish, and in times of complete happiness,” says Elton John of that personal process. “Music was always there for me, has always been my turn-to buddy even in the darkest moments of depression and addiction. Even in those dark hours, music has been my friend. It’s brought me so much joy.”

 

That’s a message, says Bell, who, as Bernie Taupin, portrays the rock who was always there to drag John out of the darkness, that is important. “This film is saying, ‘You have to know who you are. You have to be true to yourself. Because if you don’t, it will kill you. You have to stand up and be counted, have to be who you are.’ And that is a very empowering message, told in a very brave and bold way.”

 

Swinging for the Fences
THE PERFECT MATCH OF MAN AND MATERIAL


“I did say to David Furnish,” says Dexter Fletcher:
“’I wonder if this is the movie I was born to make.’”

 

“Dexter Fletcher was all over this story from the second I jumped on the film with him,” says Bell of his director. “He knew exactly what it was: the tone, the size, the color. He knew how extraordinary, big and bold it had to be, because he understands all the facets of the Elton character. The best thing about Dexter is that he is unafraid of committing things to film that might be controversial or outrageous. He knows it has to be this way. He is swinging for the fences with this.”

 

There’s an argument, of course, that ROCKETMAN is the movie that Dexter Fletcher was born to make. This is the actor who started out in Alan Parker’s (the director remains one of his all-time heroes and inspirations) gangster-musical, Bugsy Malone, in 1976. Thirty-seven years later he would make his own acclaimed musical, Sunshine On Leith. Then there was the fact that he had already directed Taron Egerton, the pair nailing another very unique British legend in Eddie The Eagle in 2015. Has his entire career been building, piece by piece, to this very moment?

 

“I did say to Furnish recently that it feels that way,” laughs Fletcher now. “This movie is very personal to me. I connect to it. I’m enormously proud of it and I hope people get a lot of pleasure from it. When I read the Lee Hall script, I just knew how to do it. The storytelling allowed me to totally indulge all my crazy ideas. I knew I had a great platform to let loose.”

 

That all of his cast have adored the process comes as no surprise to Vaughn, who knew from the first page that Fletcher was the man to make this movie. “Dexter creates an atmosphere where Taron feels safe,” says Vaughn. “That’s how he works. And that means we can go to places where we are really pushing the boundaries of Taron as an actor. Because of Dexter, Taron has smashed through the boundaries and has come out alive.”

 

The opportunity Fletcher has been afforded with ROCKETMAN is not lost on the director, and it’s one he has embraced with open arms. “I understand these opportunities are few and far between,” he says. “Movies like this don’t come along often, or ever sometimes. I had the feeling of being absolutely unencumbered because I was told from the outset: ‘Do what you believe it should be. Find what your vision is.’ It’s any creative person’s ideal to have the freedom to be able to explore that. I set about drawing on all those things that I found exciting, interesting, beautiful, funny, colorful, imaginative and inspiring and blended them all into this movie. It’s been a privilege and a joy. And, now, I just can’t wait to sit down and watch it with everyone else”.

 

Individuality & Togetherness
ROCKETMAN’S MESSAGE TO THE WORLD


“This is a raw, human story,” says Taron Egerton. “But it’s also a celebration
of a great man and what we can learn from him.”

 

“We always felt we wanted to be irreverent and make sure the audience feels like it’s getting a glimpse into the life of a man who’s had a notoriously turbulent time,” says Egerton of the driving force guiding the trajectory of ROCKETMAN. “But it’s also so important to make the fans happy and make Elton likeable. This is a raw, human story, but it’s also a celebration of a truly great man and what we can learn from him.”

 

Of all the movie’s many achievements, maybe that’s its most significant. Its ability to make the fantastical root itself in a universal reality. “I think that’s true,” says Furnish. “Our film is about the fact that if you don’t learn to love yourself, if you don’t get to that point in your life and you keep sort of throwing it into the backseat of the car as you're driving forward, it will catch up with you. You can't run away from it. That’s what happened to Elton, and that can happen to anyone. You can change the way you present yourself to the world, but if you don't work on yourself from the inside and start to accept yourself, you're never going to find true happiness.”

 

That celebration of humanity, of the things that make us all at once individual and the same, is a message that is arguably more relevant than ever before in the divided, divisive world we live in today.  As Taupin says, John’s life was “never ordinary” and ROCKETMAN acts as a reminder of the need for people to celebrate their differences, not fight them.

 

“If that message comes out of this then that’s fantastic,” says John. “I was dishonest about who I was for a time. That’s what addiction is about – being deceitful and dishonest and covering your tracks. But if you do that you hate yourself, because you become someone you don’t recognize any more.” Perhaps, just as his music has united people for six decades, his movie can do the same.

 

“Once I realized that it was honesty that mattered most, I never struggled because it was such a wonderful relief to not have to live that life anymore,” says John. “To get up in the morning, to walk my dog, to meet people who had the same problems that I did, to share them. I was never a good communicator. I foolishly thought that cocaine was the kind of drug that, because it made me talk, helped me communicate. But what I was communicating was total bullshit and nonsense. Honesty is the answer, getting your darkest secrets out, unloading all the baggage that you’ve had your whole life from childhood. Get it out. Talk about it. I wouldn’t be here now if I hadn’t done that.”
 

Mirroring his own ethos, ROCKETMAN is therefore an open and honest exploration of John’s struggles, always favouring the truth instead of shying away from the more difficult and troubling moments in his life. And, for all the filmmakers, that was a very deliberate choice.


“I hope that to see Elton's life and then see where he is today will make people realize that life is a journey,” says Furnish. “It's not straightforward, it's not easy, we all feel disconnected sometimes, but you can always come out the other end. I think people will find inspiration in that.” Or, as Howard has it, “Elton John is unquestionably an icon for millions, but if there is one quality that stands above everything else it’s his authenticity. And his courage. The courage to be authentic. He’s someone who expressed himself radically, unapologetically. I think he gave permission to so many people to be authentic to themselves. He is a treasure for all of us because he gives us permission to celebrate being our wild, crazy, extreme, imperfect selves.”

 

PART 2: THE CAST

 

His Songs, Their Way
MEET THE CAST OF ROCKETMAN


“We didn’t need just actors for this movie,” says Dexter Fletcher.
“We needed people who could do the whole damn thing.”

 

 

Taron Egerton is Elton John

 

Where do you even begin when you’re enlisted to play one of the most famous people on the planet? Not just that, but one who the planet itself already has an acutely ingrained idea of? How, in other words, do you find the real man underneath all those spectacles, sequins, tantrums and tiaras?

 

“That was a question I absolutely asked myself,” says Taron Egerton, the actor on whose shoulders this very challenge lay. “So, in the end, I just asked him.”

 

At first, John invited Egerton over to his house, for a curry and a chat. Shortly afterwards, he showed him his memoirs, which have never been published. Then he let him see all the costumes. And then, well, then he just told him everything. 

 

“There was nothing off limits,” says John of the process the pair went through to bring his story to life on the big screen. “That’s part of sobriety and learning to be open. There’s nothing you can’t talk about and communication is everything. I knew that if Taron was going to play me, he had to know everything. And he was so thirsty for knowledge. We just talked, like mates. It wasn’t like an investigative process. I think that’s why Taron has been so brilliant in this role, because a lovely friendship has developed because of this.”

 

For Egerton, these talks had a dual benefit. “One, there was nothing I felt I couldn’t ask him,” he says. “And, two, I felt very quickly that he wanted to get to know me and wanted to be a part of my life. So, the whole experience of playing him felt very personal, very quickly. And there are some similarities between us. What strikes me most is that he can simultaneously be this huge personality and command the room, but, at times, he is also the most vulnerable person I’ve ever met, and I feel that way about me. I feel that I'm someone who can be quite vulnerable and feel things very acutely. I think I share the same strength of character, but also the same emotional extremes and the same frailties.”

 

John nods in agreement. “It’s the insecurity of who we are. Being a creative person, I think, comes from that insecurity and wanting to prove something, to become something other than who you are. And I think most creative people – not just actors but musicians, painters, anyone – go through that. That’s great because the uncertainties mean we’re not full of ourselves. If you don’t have uncertainties, then you won’t move forward.”

 

That said, there were no uncertainties whatsoever in the brain of the man who first put the two of them together. John and Furnish had come to producer Matthew Vaughn to discuss how they might finally make this screenplay they’d been sat on for a decade into an actual film. And when Vaughn read it, he had no hesitation.

 

Taron Egerton, the actor he had discovered and directed in 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service and then directed in its sequel, Kingsman: The Golden Circle – having produced him in Eddie The Eagle, with Dexter Fletcher at the helm, in between – simply was Elton John. Of that, Vaughn had no doubt.

 

“Primarily, to play Elton you have to sing, and Taron is a fantastic singer,” says Vaughn of his thought process. “But, importantly, he is very vulnerable and sensitive, which Elton is too. He is very opiniated, in a good way, which Elton is. So, he had all the tools. I am instinctive about casting and when I read the script all I could see was Taron. That was my instinct, and it’s paid off.”

 

It’s fair to say that ‘it’s paid off’ is understating it. Put simply, Egerton doesn’t play Elton John in ROCKETMAN; he transforms into him. “Taron’s great strength as an actor is that his vulnerability is something you can just sense; he doesn’t have to play it,” says Fletcher. “And that’s essential when you’re playing someone who has this perceived veneer of toughness. What I mean by that is that Taron can play tough and difficult situations and characters and still maintain a sense of loneliness, a sense of needing somebody or something. When Taron does scenes like that, they don’t feel venal and self-centered or just plain nasty. It always feels like it comes from a place of need. And when you allow your audience to understand that this person, no matter what their behaviour is, is behaving this way because they need someone or something, it’s a massive bonus. Oh, and beyond that, he can sing like an angel…”

 

Egerton’s ability to sing Elton John songs has been proven before, his belting out of ‘I’m Still Standing’ in the animated smash, Sing, having not gone unnoticed on the global stage. But nothing will prepare people for his performances in ROCKETMAN. Given free reign by John himself, to not just do an impersonation but to make these classic tracks his own, Egerton brings entirely new life to songs that have been beloved for generations, often recording his own versions of them before sending the vocals to John for his seal of approval. A seal that was happily and readily given.

 

His achievement is extraordinary, even to the untrained ear and eye. But for his co-stars and director, Egerton’s performance is truly next-level. “This has been a hell of a thing for Taron to take on,” says Bell. “He’s in every scene. It’s an intimidating part because he has the heavy, life and death drama stuff, but then there’s the singing and dancing. It’s miraculous what he has done. His singing voice is outrageous. It was good before, but the strength in his voice now is quite remarkable. It’s a true transformation, not an impersonation. That’s the important distinction. This is his own version, his own understanding of who the man is. And he’s breathing life into these parts of Elton that only existed behind closed doors, and he’s bringing that to the surface in his songs. It’s overwhelming.”

 

Egerton was, says Fletcher, not just the right man but the only man for the job. “He has this incredible instrument, this voice, that he loves to use,” the director says. “But I can’t imagine anybody else who would have done such a physical transformation. It’s a very scary place to be for an actor, to step out onto the ledge, to face your fears and deliver. And Taron has done that beyond anyone’s wildest expectations.”

 

“It’s hard to put into words what this whole thing has meant to me,” Egerton says. “The experience of playing Elton has genuinely been nourishing to my life. Going hand in hand with that, there was just getting to know him. I feel so lucky. He gave me no advice how to play him and as a support, he has been very present, but he has not been someone who lent on me or guided me. He knows, because of what he’s been through in his life, that you have to give someone space to get the best out of them. He gave me real license and I am so grateful for that. I’m proud to say that through this, Elton John has become a friend.”

 

 

Jamie Bell is Bernie Taupin


Of all the Elton John songs that are showcased in ROCKETMAN, maybe most significant is the one you’ve never heard before. It’s the one the film ends with; one that’s a brand-new composition – called ‘I’m Gonna Love Me Again’ – from one of the most enduring, successful and beloved creative partnerships in music history.

 

The track is sung together by Elton John and Taron Egerton, but while that vocal partnership truly is something to behold, it’s the partnership behind its creation that ROCKETMAN ultimately celebrates. After 50 years working together, with the pair closer today than they ever have been, ‘I’m Gonna Love Me Again’ marks just the latest instant-classic from the partnership of Elton John and his lyricist and collaborator, Bernie Taupin.

 

“What they have between them is kind of a beautiful, harmonious marriage, lightning in a bottle,” explains Bell. “In the film we see them meet, and they’re kind of two loners, who find each other and form a friendship that lasts a lifetime.”

 

And to think, it was a friendship that very nearly never happened in the first place. As ROCKETMAN documents, the meeting between the two men who have dominated the music charts for six decades happened entirely by chance.

 

“They met completely randomly, a chance meeting in an office in ‘67, where Elton went in to pursue his song-writing,” says Furnish. “Elton said, ‘I can write the melody but I can't write the lyric’, and a man named Ray Williams picks up an envelope, an unopened envelope (Taupin, like John, having answered an advertisement in the New Musical Express for a writing job at Liberty Records), off the table and puts it in Elton's hand and says, ‘Why don't you go and try and write some music to this.’ That is kismet. That is magic. That's when everything in the universe aligns to create something very, very special.”

 

At the time, both young men were desperate to progress their careers. John was playing the supper-club circuit in a band called Bluesology. “I just thought there had to be more to music than playing to people who weren’t interested and were just eating fish and chips or chicken and chips,” he remembers. Taupin had left school at 15 and was aching to escape his job in a chicken farm in the North of England.

 

“Bernie was only 17 or 18 when he met Elton,” says Bell of the moment that would change the course of music history forever. “Bernie had become a bit of a juvenile delinquent and ended up becoming a chicken farmer and saw no way out. He felt trapped. He saw this music advertisement and replied to it with something like, ‘I’m a poet and have some lyrics, if you are interested.’ There is even some lore that he didn’t send the letter; he might have put it in the bin and his mum picked it out of the bin and mailed it, or he left it on the mantle and she mailed it, something like that. But the bigger idea is that there was this good fortune for both Bernie and for Elton of quite randomly finding someone that understands you, who gets you.”

 

That understanding, as Fletcher explains, is not just what has kept the pair together, but what has kept one of them alive. “Bernie is this really grounded anchor that just keeps hold of the rope,” says the director, “that stops Elton from flying out into the atmosphere and getting completely lost.” Or, as Bell has it: “Bernie has always been this rock to Elton, because he was someone who always knew who he was. Whereas Elton was someone who was really trying to grab onto something, some identity or person or persona, or some love or career or drugs or whatever. Bernie represented this steadfastness. ‘I know who I am and, I am your friend.’”

 

For Fletcher, Bell was always his first choice, the director sold on his “inherent likeability and how rooted and honest he is”. And it was a choice that John and Furnish, who had met the young star when he was aged just 13, at the Cannes premiere for his debut film, Billy Elliot, were delighted with. 

 

“At the reception after the film, Elton came over to me and the director,” remembers Bell of their very first meeting. “He was still kind of shaking and weeping, because the film had really connected with him. He was the first megastar I ever met. And as someone who has had to navigate success and fame at a young age, Elton seems to take an in interest that, with how people navigate that. ROCKETMAN is about that. Elton John is a survivor. His is an exceptional story.”

 

To tell it, Bell began by telephoning the real Taupin, to introduce himself. Taupin invited him over to his house for dinner. “It’s the right thing to do when you are playing someone (real), to make contact and say, ‘This is what I intend to do.’ I drove up to see him in Santa Barbara. He was very generous with his time. Back then, in reality, they were writing number one album after number one album – I think they had three in a row, which had never been done before, was never even heard of in their time. Bernie had his pressures and his demons too, but I think that knowing who you are inside makes it easier to deal with. Bernie would say that Elton was his best friend, the loveliest guy in the world, but could also be the devil incarnate at times.”

 

That intimate understanding of their relationship served Bell well throughout the course of making a movie that saw him stretch himself more than ever before. In a performance that, just like Egerton, sees him not just act but sing too, it’s Bell who performs ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ – a song he recorded at Abbey Road – for a scene that captures a moment in which the creative partnership came very close to ending. 

 

“The amount of inner turmoil Elton has had to live with throughout his life makes things incredibly challenging for him,” says Bell. “So, to have someone like Bernie, who’s just present and consistent, is everything. The way that Elton talks about Bernie is so loving. The bond is very profound. It’s well documented that Elton once kind of made a fleeting pass at Bernie, and Bernie was like, ‘I love you, but that’s not going to happen.’ What I love about Bernie is that Bernie doesn’t judge. He accepts Elton for who he is. And even when Elton gets bigger and bigger, with the costumes and all that, he tells him that he doesn’t have to. He really believes in Elton’s ability. And when Elton sings at that piano, he gives people all this joy, and Bernie gets that. In the film, Bernie is always trying to course correct Elton back to the simple thing. That’s why he has always been so important.”

 

 

Richard Madden is John Reid

 

“If Bernie is the heart of Elton’s relationship to music,” says Fletcher, “then the flipside is John Reid – someone who is Machiavellian, a kind of Mephistopheles who represents all this magic and craziness in a completely different way.”

 

In real-life, Reid was John’s first long-term boyfriend, as well as being his manager for 28, often turbulent, years. In ROCKETMAN he’s played by Richard Madden, the 32 year-old Scottish actor who became a household name with his role as Robb Stark in Game Of Thrones and last year’s worldwide BBC smash, Bodyguard. “We cast Richard just before Bodyguard came out,” says Furnish. “But when I saw him in that (before release), it was a powerful, riveting performance. He had that smoldering Scottish sexiness about him that just seemed so perfect for the way John Reid is portrayed in this film.”

 

Reid and John first met in London in the late 60s through mutual friends, right before John had made his astonishing debut at LA’s legendary venue, The Troubadour. “It was a genuine spark and a genuine relationship,” says Madden. “And that was important to me, establishing this real relationship between the two of them, because without that it is very easy for John (Reid) to become a pure villain, a bad guy who was there to manipulate Elton. The way I tried to play it was that he’s got huge admiration and respect for him, and he’s bowled over by his talent and ability from the very beginning. That’s where the real spark comes from. As it goes on, it develops into more a of a business relationship and John (Reid) then does become a bit of a villain – at least, that’s how I am playing him in this version of the story. But we wanted it to come from a genuine place to begin with, a genuine intimacy that I hope we were able to capture. Our film interpretation is that John Reid gives Elton a lot of his confidence in terms of being out and being himself and in a relationship with a man.”

 

That sentiment is also very much acknowledged by Furnish who, as both producer and Elton John’s husband, knows very well the significance of the relationship at the time. “John Reid was a very important person in Elton's life,” Furnish says. “It was the very first relationship that Elton had. When he met John Reid, he was a virgin. John was the first man he fell in love with and had a relationship with. He became Elton's next manager at that time and together they had extraordinary success. The personal relationship moved on, but the professional relationship continued. There were lots of challenges along the way, and the film very much puts it out there and tells it like it was, in spirit.”

 

Or, as Elton John himself has it: “We lucked out with Richard. John Reid was a very strong-willed, very charismatic Scottish man. Richard is a very strong-willed, very charismatic Scottish man. They were born in the same place in Scotland. I am a great believer in kismet and how the universe spins around and throws people into their path. I love Scottish people; they have great charm, which I fell for with John – the sexiness. But there was the brutal side of his Glaswegian personality. In Richard’s performance, he can be tender and a bastard.”

 

For an actor, this kind of character dichotomy is the reason to get out of bed in the morning, a fact that is not lost on Madden, who reveled in the duality of his personality. “It’s quite difficult trying to pitch John Reid, where to sit him, because the people I’ve spoken to who have known him have a very different view on him,” he says of his research. “Some would say, ‘He’s the most terrifying man you could meet’. And others would say, ‘He is the most fun person. You’d want to be with him on every night out.’ But the running theme through all of them is that he was a very smart businessman. We know from the newspapers the stories of their lawsuits and problems they had later in life and how it ended, but as an actor your instinct is to try to make something beautiful and to be liked. There’s a lot of John Reid that’s not very likeable. It’s really fun to play with that.”

 

In pre-production, Fletcher himself went to meet Reid, and discovered that, “the incredible thing about these guys – Elton, Bernie and John – is that they’ve been around for a long time, and they get how it works in the retelling of Elton’s story. This is not a documentary but a heightened fantasy. And these guys are smart enough to get that.”

 

For Madden, that element of heightened fantasy brought with it a new skillset too; one that terrified him at first but that he soon learned to love. Realizing at the first read-through of the script that, ‘Hang on, there’s more time during the songs than there is during the scenes to tell this story; we have to tell this story more through song and dance than straight acting,’ the actor worked with his director to find a new rhythm, to learn how to tell a story in a different way.

 

“I’ve never done anything like this,” Madden says. “It was very daunting. I’d do these really intense, intimate, dramatic scenes with Taron, and then suddenly we’d snap fingers and start going into a song and dance. That’s hard to bridge, but I worked with Dexter and Adam Murray, who is an amazing choreographer, and tried to get these dance moves down, so that when we’re playing the songs and singing and dancing live, I’m not thinking about the dancing, I’m thinking about the acting.”

 

Madden looks back on his experience on ROCKETMAN with nothing but pride, in particular the ‘Honky Cat’ number between him and Egerton that “covers three years of their relationship in song” and required Madden to be more fleet of foot than ever. ”You’ve got a lot of acting work to do,” he says, “to try to cover all these beats and moments.”

 

But for all the singing and the dancing, it was maybe the more intimate moments that landed with Madden the most. “You know,” he says, “I think we all have a flamboyant idea of Elton John. But playing John Reid I’ve discovered, alongside Taron’s interpretation, a regular guy.”

 

Bryce Dallas Howard is Sheila Farebrother


As on-screen intros go, try this one on for size. “There’s little Reggie Dwight and he starts singing, and you (the audience) are in Elton John’s childhood in Pinner, England, in the 1950s,” says Bryce Dallas Howard of playing Sheila Farebrother, Elton John’s mother, in her first scene in ROCKETMAN. “It’s a musical number and little Reggie is singing ‘The Bitch is Back’ and then I show up. And I’m the bitch.”

 

The 38-year-old actress may be most famous for battling Tyrannosaurus Rexes in the Jurassic World series of blockbusters, but, according to Vaughn, this movie without doubt presents her with her most sizeable on-screen challenge.

 

“The mother is a pivotal character,” says Vaughn of the real-life Farebrother, who sadly died in 2017. Howard found the development between motherly love and a complicated mother with narcissistic tendencies who loved Elton but also hurt Elton, a tough thing to pull off. “The actresses we were auditioning could not do the two things together. It’s pretty tricky – they were either too ‘mommy’ or too mean. But Bryce is a great actress and she understood the role and how to find the balance. It’s a fine line.”

 

If the choice of the track she makes her introduction to sounds harsh, according to Howard it couldn’t be better suited. “It explains Sheila’s vibe,” she says simply. “You see Elton as a young boy, as Reggie Dwight, and the kind of life he was living, the dynamic in his family as he was growing up and how that informed who he is as a person, and his music. Sheila had a very toxic relationship with Elton’s father. Their relationship was contentious and, when they finally got married, Elton was six years old. When people think of Elton John, it’s the iconic Elton John, but he had humble and turbulent beginnings. He was being raised by his Mum and his Nan in Pinner, and when his father did move in with them, there was a tremendous amount of distance.”

 

The thing about authenticity, though, is that sometimes you just have to learn to take the smooth with the rough. “Sheila basically looks like Liz Taylor, so every scene is another outfit, which is fabulous,” says Howard. “It’s fun to get into the drama of the clothes and the fun of the fashion, to have permission to explore that and push that, especially since the film is being done in a way where we were not being so literal with the facts and not trying to copy how anyone looked in this photograph or that photograph. That is not the goal here – the goal is to put on a show.”

 

For Fletcher, “obviously the women – the mother and grandmother – in Elton’s life are very important. It’s been well documented that these were strong women in his formative years. I needed a really strong female character straight out of the box, and the moment you see Bryce, you understand exactly who this person is and her many layers.”

 

Or, as Howard herself says: “Sheila was incredibly charismatic and winning and could draw people in. She had this ability to be absolutely terrifying, very self-absorbed, self-centered, and a really narcissistic parent consumed by what they don’t have, or what they feel they were deprived of. So, the dynamic between Elton and Sheila wasn’t great, and Elton really tried, even though he said she was always really supportive of the music.”

 

And, just as Elton John’s relationship with his mother ebbed and flowed between support and separation, love and loss, so too did Howard’s relationship with Sheila, a character she sometimes found difficult to play and harder to understand. “That said,” she says, of a period piece the kind of which she has long been longing to play, “This film is also my time to dress up, everybody – don’t take it away from me!”

 

Gemma Jones is Grandmother Ivy

 

Gemma Jones is no stranger to playing maternal figures to British icons. It’s just that as the years have passed so have the roles changed too. And, arguably, in ROCKETMAN, Jones – so far best known for playing Harry Potter’s Madame Pomfrey and Bridget Jones’ beloved mother, in three movies apiece – has perhaps found her most truly iconic.

 

“Elton loved his grandmother more than anyone,” explains Vaughn of the significance of Jones’ role. “She was the kind of grandmother who would do anything for her grandchild.”

 

It’s a dedication that anyone who is a fan of John’s music should frankly be thankful for, Ivy’s nurturing of his natural talent seeing the young Reggie rise out of a difficult family background to become the global superstar we know him as today.

 

“I think Ivy senses Reggie’s difference,” says Jones. “She knows he is sensitive and hugely musically talented from a very young age. He was formerly trained as a classical musician and could have gone that way, but Ivy got him a piano teacher and encouraged his musical education.”

 

Jones didn’t talk to John about his relationship with his mother before playing her mother before her, “but going off the script, which he approved, he was very close to Ivy. In fact, she brought him up a lot of the time. He has a very difficult relationship with his mother, as indeed his grandmother has with her daughter.”

           

For Jones, though, some relationships were easier to understand. “I knew Dexter Fletcher as a boy actor,” she says. “We were in the Royal Shakespeare Company together when he was about 14 or 15. He was a cheeky chap then and, really, he hasn’t changed. He’s very fun and energetic and enthusiastic. He’s the perfect person to lead this company given that Elton goes through some black periods in his life – this film is essentially a joyous occasion.”

 

 

PART 3: THE MUSIC

 

A Soundtrack for the Ages
THE SONGS OF ROCKETMAN


Elton John explains his incredible process with Bernie Taupin, and the filmmakers reveal
how they have taken their classic tracks and made them feel “completely different”

 

“There are certain things that have happened in my life that I look back at and think they must have been divine intervention,” says John with a smile. “The first thing was me deciding to leave the band I was in (Bluesology) and wanting to do something different. I was kind of chubby, not very confident about myself, but I was so fed up with doing cabaret, playing to people who weren’t interested in music. So, I answered the advertisement in the New Musical Express. I look back now and wonder how I had the courage to do it. I think, ‘I was so shy, how the hell did I do that?’”

 

The advertisement he’s talking about is, as has gone down in musical legend, the very same one that a young guy who worked in a chicken farm in the north of England, called Bernie Taupin, had also answered, inviting people to try out for a writing job at Liberty Records. John got the call first and went in to meet a man called Ray Williams. John told Williams that he could write music but had no idea how to write lyrics. “So, Ray Williams leans back and gets this unopened envelope from a stack of envelopes on his desk. It could have been anybody’s,” says John now. “But he gave it to me, to see if whatever lyrics were inside might work. I excitedly got on the train back to Pinner, opened the envelope and thought, ‘These are really good.’ It could have been any envelope, but it was Bernie’s. “He’s been my dearest friend; we’ve had a relationship for 50 years now. That envelope could have been from another person, whose lyrics were shit! I can only think, ‘Oh my god, did I ever luck out?’”

 

The rest, as they say, is history, John and Taupin forging a songwriting partnership – the former on the music, the latter on the lyrics – that has dominated the worldwide music scene for six decades. At one point, the pair were so powerful that their records represented 4% of all records sold, anywhere in the world. And now, with ROCKETMAN, which features 23 of their songs together, their classic tracks are being reimagined for a whole new audience, sung by a whole new cast.

 

“It’s always fresh with Bernie because I never know what I'm going to get,” is how John describes the pair’s astonishingly productive process. “It’s not that we talk about what kind of song we are going to write. I never know what I'm going to get. So, when I get it, it’s always exciting. It’s always been the same, from the very first lyric. We write in that odd kind of way where he creates the scenario for the song, and I finish it off. Our songs come together very quickly. I don’t know how long it takes him to write a lyric because I don’t ever ask. But when I get that lyric, if I latch onto it very quickly and put my hands on the keyboard and go, most of the time it doesn’t take very long. There are some lyrics he gives me that I love, that I’ve tried to write melodies to, and I just can’t. I can’t fathom why. But I accept that. I'm lucky enough to have the ones I’ve written to. I don’t know how it happens. It’s extraordinary. It’s the same when I'm playing on stage. My hands are moving but I'm not telling them where to move.”

 

As one of ROCKETMAN’s executive producers, John had a key input into the casting of both himself and Taupin, and he couldn’t be more delighted with the results. “Taron [Egerton] is a remarkable human being. Truly, remarkable. And what he does in this movie is just incredible,” says John of his leading man. “And having Jamie Bell in the film is also one of those ‘do-do-do!’ moments. Years ago, when I attended the premiere of Billy Elliot, the film, in Cannes, it moved me so much. That final scene, when Billy is grown up and he’s performing Swan Lake, and his dad comes in and watches him… My dad never did that. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve made my peace with my father and it’s fine, but at that moment Jamie’s performance affected me so much emotionally. And now he’s affecting me again in my bloody life story! And it’s wonderful.”

 

Of course, for all their abilities as actors, whoever was cast would also face the not-inconsiderable task of singing their own versions of some of the most well-known songs ever written. “I knew Taron could sing the moment I first met him,” says ROCKETMAN’s music producer, Giles Martin. “I met him through Matthew (Vaughn), before Dexter came onto the project. We sat in the studio and just started working. He’s a remarkable human being. I’ve never known a singer who can dedicate themselves so much to the process, to understanding what you need to do – and at the same time realizing that there needs to be heart inside the song. You know, you can take the boy out of Wales, but the Welsh really are great singers.”

 

Martin, along with the cast, director and producers, has framed the songs in ROCKETMAN in a way that does not just make sense with the narrative the movie is telling – of how the young Reginald Dwight became the icon Elton John, with all the good and the bad that that metamorphosis would bring with it – but also reframes their indelible melodies, as well as the meanings behind them.

 

“I think the real fans will be surprised at the way that the songs were written to tell one story but based on the way we've placed them in the film and used them, they tell a different story completely,” says Furnish of this production’s unique approach. “I think a lot of people will look at it and go, ‘Oh my God, I never thought of that song like that.’”

 

Built on sheer creative freedom, when Martin sat down with Vaughn and then Fletcher, to discuss their overriding philosophy, “Dexter said to me, ‘When the music starts, we want to go somewhere else,’” says Martin. “’We want everything to fly up in the air when the songs start. We’re not rooting the songs down.’” And so was born a musical the likes of which has never been seen before.

 

“We set out to make a musical,” says Fletcher. “The idea was to approach it like that, exploit Taron’s amazing vocal talents and use the songs to keep the film and the storytelling moving seamlessly. It means that the song comes alive in a completely different way. All bets were off in terms of how we were going to use them. These songs are at our disposal just like the set design is, like the costume design is, like the lighting design is. And having someone like Giles, who understands how that vision works, bringing all his power to bear on it, elevates it.”

 

“That approach was hugely appealing to me, because it gives you scope to start playing with things, how musically we can be challenged,” says Martin. “It gives you a reason to play around with Elton’s music. The songs become a kind of heartbeat of what happens in the story. It’s like this other world opens up to us. The way this process starts is that we record a demo version of the song. Taron or Richard or Jamie or whoever, they come and sing a guide vocal, which we then take to set. And then they either replace that vocal on set when they sing live, or they’ll mime to it. Then, I score the songs around how that develops. It’s almost working backwards.”

 

The results are astonishing. But they couldn’t have happened without the men who made the songs in the first place – the real-life Elton John and Bernie Taupin – giving the production complete freedom to play with their creations.

 

“That was the most amazing part,” says Martin. “To some people these songs are so iconic that they’re almost sacred objects. But we’re not just changing things for the sake of it. And the great thing about Elton is that he is a true artist. He wants people to expand on his work. He has sung these songs countless times, has heard them over and over again. It’s refreshing for him to have new interpretations – and I think everyone has achieved something truly extraordinary.”

 

The Set List
A GUIDE TO SOME OF ROCKETMAN’S PIVOTAL MUSICAL SEQUENCES


Cast and crew reveal how some of Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s most
famous songs play out in their unique musical odyssey

 

‘The Bitch is Back’

 

The first Elton John track that features in ROCKETMAN isn’t just thematically daring but sets the scene for how music will be employed in telling the story of how young Reggie became a global icon. “’The Bitch is Back’ is really where we sign the contract with the audience and they get to understand how the music is going to be applied throughout the film,” says Furnish. “It’s a bold opening for a film, a stand-up musical showpiece kind of number, but it's also very important because it's where we introduce the concept of our storytelling – that we aren't just a live performance music movie, but a film where reality and fantasy are very much blurred worlds that cross over at different times. In ROCKETMAN, the music is often the conduit to go in and out of those worlds, and to give people a chance to express and reveal things about themselves through a song.”

 

The song transports us back to the 1950s, specifically the home of a seven-year-old Reginald Dwight, where we find a family living a largely loveless existence (“every member of the house is searching for love in a different way,” observes Furnish). The setting is sweet, “almost Stepford Wives-y,” says Fletcher, a very traditional English setting in the ‘50s – all milkmen and postmen and ice cream vans. “But everything is a bit too perfect,” adds Fletcher. “I wanted all the dancers to be doll-faced and have locked, rictus grins on their faces. The neighbors are all very cheery and everyone’s waving to Reggie, and then he sings about being ‘a bitch’ and he’s like this kind of venal, dangerous character. Then you have older Elton in his devilish costume in the middle of that, trying to stop it, close it down. He literally goes to the extent of saying, ‘Stop, stop, stop! This is not historically accurate! He’s not the bitch. I’m the bitch.’”

 

If that sounds audacious, that’s because, well, it is, Fletcher setting out his stall from the opening frames that this is a very long way from your more traditional musical or biopic. “With young Reggie singing ‘The Bitch is Back’ especially, I knew it would very clearly launch us out of the gate with something that you don’t expect,” the director says. “Hopefully, it lets the audience know that although we’re going to play with convention, we’re going to see things that seem sort of sweet and light and almost pedestrian but in its roots the film is also saying, ‘I’m a bitch’, and it’s not ashamed of what it is.”

 

As an opening salvo, ‘The Bitch is Back’ functions as the perfect introduction to the world of ROCKETMAN, its daring mix of the authentic and the surreal. “That’s the idea,” says Fletcher. “You know, this isn’t traditional. We are in a musical, but it’s weird and off-kilter, because that’s where Elton is at this point (in the movie). He’s out of whack. Placing this opening in his home in Pinner, where he’s from, where his genesis is, is crucial. Later in his life, Elton got to the point where he always felt he was bad, but the truth is, he wasn’t. He was once just a wonderful, innocent child, like we all were. That’s what he needs to reconnect with.”

 

 

‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’

 

One of ROCKETMAN’s most audacious set-pieces takes place, somewhat appropriately, to one of Elton John’s most outrageously thumping tunes. The sequence starts with a 10-year-old Reggie playing piano in a London pub, before following him out the door, up an alley and out into a bustling British funfair, where he morphs from his young incarnation (played by Kit Connor) into Taron Egerton’s tearaway teen.

 

It’s an astounding sequence, one single tracking shot following him through the fairground as he interacts with over 300 extras, 50 dancers, four cameras, three cranes, 10 dodgems and a Ferris wheel. This epic dance number took 12 weeks to choreograph and time-jumps the audience from the ‘50s to the ‘60s. “And that jump means we can also show all the different cultures and influences in London at the time,” says choreographer Adam Murray. “Each group (of dancers in the sequence) starts picking up dance moves from the other groups – the Mods are doing a bit of Bhangra and there are also Teddies, Rockers and Ska – this unity.”

 

This narrative device and choice of song, says Furnish, “is a brilliant metaphor for showing how Elton moved through a very difficult, claustrophobic, working-class upbringing, to become this unstoppable force propelling himself forward from childhood into early manhood. It's a wonderful, big celebratory set-piece.”

 

Fletcher looks back on the shooting of the sequence – comfortably his biggest to date – with pride. “‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ always makes people smile,” he says. “I hope people come out of that scene and say, ‘Well, that was great!’ There is so much storytelling crammed into it. Here, Elton is seeing the things that are the genesis of his musical influences. The sequence shows how Elton celebrates other people and their differences because that is part of who he is and what his ethos is. The world is now about celebrating diversity and difference, and that is who Elton is. As a musical number, it’s always moving, celebrating a raw, visceral youth. That’s why it’s one shot. I said to my director of photography, George Richmond, ‘Let’s make it connective, one shot. Let’s make it keep moving, keep it fluid and do it seamlessly.’ And George is the best man in the world for that job. That’s why it’s a key centerpiece because it is really about Elton stepping out into a wider world.”

 

‘Your Song’

 
’Your Song’ will always be an essential feature on the soundtrack to Taron Egerton’s life. You could even say that it’s the song that changed it forever. Egerton chose the song as the one he would perform at his audition to get into the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Twice. “The first time, I didn’t get in!” he laughs now. “But I knew it was a winner and it worked the next year. I chose it because it tells a story of a character. It’s addressed to someone and you can perform it as a speech. And it’s a truly lovely moment in ROCKETMAN, part of a narrative of how Elton and Bernie collaborated in such a unique way.”

 

For Bell, it’s not just one of the greatest songs ever written but perfect for the story they are telling. “It’s very visual and cinematic songwriting,” he says. “The way that song is depicted in the film is a beautiful, beautiful moment.”

 

As for one of the two men who wrote it, ‘Your Song’ still remains one of his most favourite to perform, nearly 50 years after he first did. “I’ve never got tired of singing it,” says John. “It’s the most beautiful, romantic song. It touches people. That’s why you write songs, to touch people. You want to write songs that please you, but if they please other people, and I think the lyric to ‘Your Song’ and the sentiment behind the song does, it will never die. It’s an extraordinary lyric from an 18-year-old poet (Bernie Taupin). And it’s complicated – I wrote it in E-flat, and I wrote it very, very quickly as you see in ROCKETMAN. That really is how it happened. The writing was a magical moment in our life.”

 

That scene in ROCKETMAN, as we witness the creation of one of the most enduring love songs of all time, is, according to its director, one of the most stunning moments in a movie packed with them. “What I set out to do was to use the songs in a new and exciting way,” says Fletcher. “The familiarity of the song allows us to enjoy that moment and what we’ve done with it is a spine-tingling cinematic moment.”

 

 

‘Crocodile Rock’


“One of the bits I'm most proud of in our film is Elton’s breakout performance at the Troubadour,” says Egerton of the moment that Elton John first burst onto the global music scene. “He was 23 years old and it was one of those performances, one of those amazing nights at the Troubadour, that really broke him into this a huge international artist.”

 

The production built a note-perfect recreation of the iconic music venue in Los Angeles, for a sequence that sees Egerton’s John go from terrified – hiding in the toilets backstage, refusing to come on – to triumphant. “‘Crocodile Rock’ is one of Elton's biggest audience participation numbers, so that seemed like an obvious choice for the sequence,” says Furnish. “It's so catchy, you pick it up so quickly, people sing along with it straight away. And in the movie, there is a light, airy quality to what Dexter has imagined with the Troubadour performance. Elton was always famous for projecting his legs up in the air off the back of the pianos, doing handstands on the piano keys. We decided to take that and use that as a metaphor for showing his rise to fame. During that number, with all the energy and all the kicking back, his legs rise up into the air and the audience rises up into the air with him. You get the sense that it's not just your average concert, it's a very, very special moment where the whole room kind of felt like things just went to another place in a big otherworldly kind of way. That song underpins all of that beautifully.”

 

Not that it necessarily felt like it at the time, of course. “People just went, ‘What?’” laughs John at the memory of that memorable night. “I was, you know, jumping in the air and all that, and they weren’t ready for that. But it was about being in the right place at the right time. You know, when Dick James (the British record producer) said to me, ‘I want you to go to the Troubadour,’ I said to him, ‘I so want to go to America but I don’t think the time is right.’ He told me I had to go. It shows you; you know nothing. I thought, ‘Well, I want to go to an American record store and buy some albums.’ So, I went. You never know what’s going happen!”

 

‘Tiny Dancer’


That unforgettable, life-changing night at The Troubadour became ever more significant for what happened right after it, with John and Taupin finding themselves invited straight afterwards to a party at music icon Mama Cass’ house. It was there that Elton first met John Reid. 

 

“In the movie you really see the instant connection between these two men,” says Madden. “Their relationship would get much more complicated and go to some dark places, but it was important to us to show how intense that spark first was.”

 

And what better song to showcase that spark than ‘Tiny Dancer’, one of John’s most beloved songs? “Absolutely,” says Fletcher. “You know, when we started to make the movie, we obviously started to think about what songs we were going to feature in it. There are so many Elton John songs to choose from, and, to be clear, we chose the songs we have in the movie because they worked with the story that we wanted to tell. But, when you start writing that list, ‘Tiny Dancer’ is basically right at the top of it.”

 

‘Honky Cat’


Like the ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’ sequence, ROCKETMAN’s ‘Honky Cat’ one is also deliberately staged with the look and feel of a classic MGM musical. And not just for the visual pizzazz of it, either. “This short sequence is illustrating the kind of burgeoning success and growing notoriety and wealth that is coming to Elton at that time,” explains Egerton. “The fun of the number is that Elton is really discovering his identity before the cost of excess kicks in. In it, me and Richard (Madden) have a little dance-off on top of a huge spinning record.”

 

It’s a lovely, brief but telling moment in the movie; one that feels both modern in its execution and classical in its make-up. “Singin’ in the Rain is one of my favorite films, where Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse go off into these inspired fantasies,” says Fletcher of the tone he’s striving for. “For me, the question is how we take that traditional thing and flip it on its head and make it all about opulence and self-indulgence and behavior that is deemed to be not particularly attractive – the spending of money.”

 

And, boy, was there money. At the time of the ‘Honky Cat’ sequence in ROCKETMAN, Elton John was commanding no less than 4% of all records sold, everywhere. “That is a a tremendous amount of money,” says Fletcher. “So, the song needed to celebrate and look at that, take it on board. Whether you agree with it or not, it is Elton’s reality at that point, and while it seems fantastical and opulent and almost rude, ‘Honky Cat’ just seemed to lean into that idea nicely. It shows the side of, ‘It must be wonderful to be rich and have a bath of champagne,’ but while it’s an exploration of that, it’s also about the other side of that. It’s the beginning of his detachment from reality.”


One of ROCKETMAN’s very first manifestos was always that as well as celebrating the life of Elton John, it would not shy away from the darkness that it has also seen. And this ‘Honky Cat’ sequence is a prime example of that, of John’s commitment to authenticity, even the ugly side of it. “That was always important to us,” acknowledges Furnish. “This song is used in the moment in our storytelling where Elton is becoming this big, big success, but where he kind of goes from there. It starts to show the influence that John Reid has on his life and the things he introduces Elton to. It shows how they come together as a couple and come together as a business and learn and grow so much. It's really where the excesses start to come into Elton's life, and he begins to really broaden as an individual. Which is a good thing but also, turns out to be a very, very challenging thing in his life. ‘Honky Cat’ is a very seductive moment in the film.”

 

‘Bennie and the Jets’
 

For ROCKETMAN’s music producer, the Giles Martin, ‘Bennie and the Jets’ is maybe the boldest of all the many musical interpretations that this production has brought to bear on Elton John’s classic back catalogue.

 

It’s a wild take for a wild time in the movie’s narrative. “It’s the bacchanalian reality, it’s the private jet going down to the NYC wonderland,” says Fletcher of the sequence. “It’s the high point or the low point in the story, depending on your viewpoint. In ROCKETMAN, there had to be a time where Elton completely loses himself, loses his way. Then he comes into rehab to try to find who he is again. I can’t do ‘warts and all’ if I don’t show the warts. And this is really what it looked like. This was a question of, ‘How dark can we make it?’ I didn’t need to show Elton sleeping with loads of people in the film and all that stuff, but I needed people to understand what propelled his behavior. We have honest love scenes of Richard and Taron, and they’re beautifully shot, like any love scene should be. But ‘Bennie and the Jets’ is the polar opposite of that, where his life just becomes completely venal and lost. The film has a responsibility to explore that. And, if I don’t, then I can’t put him in rehab. He’s got nothing to rehabilitate from.”

 

The track, sung by Egerton, is set in a nightclub, and not just any club. “There was a period in the ‘70s where Studio 54 was the club to be at,” says Fletcher. “It was an incredible place for incredible people with an incredible creative output, but it was a particularly dark time. It was this strange time when AIDS was very prevalent. There was this undertone of fear. Elton’s personal life was getting completely lost in addiction. So, in the ‘Bennie and the Jets’ sequence, there is this kind of darkness and you see the seven layers of Hell as you descend down into the club. The film takes a responsible attitude to the drugs in that it goes, ‘Yeah, come to Studio 54. It’s amazing as you come down the stairs, but once you get to the bottom, it’s horrible – the people who are there are lost.’ So, visually, the sequence starts off and looks and feels amazing. It’s very inviting. But then it descends into a darkness that I feel is the responsible way to approach it, because I don’t want to glorify it. There is a human cost, an emotional cost and a personal cost.”

 

As costume designer Julian Day has it, “If ‘Honky Cat’ is the seed of excess then ‘Bennie and the Jets’ is the finished oak of things.” It’s sex and drugs, in other words, but the rock and roll has gone out the window. “This is when the rocket is really starting to sputter,” says Furnish. “‘Bennie and the Jets’ is where Elton is really on the decline. Everything is becoming too much. His addictions are spiraling out of control and dragging him down. The song is used as almost this desperate cry. It's very powerfully used.”

 

‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’
 

As well as being a classic song and a pivotal part of the story in the movie, ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ is also the perfect showcase of the brilliant intricacies that costume designer Julian Day brought to ROCKETMAN. The outfit he created to accompany the song is inspired, of course, by The Wizard of Oz, with the kind of level of detailing that will delight fans of the family classic.

 

“It’s one of my favorite outfits in the movie,” says Day. “I gave Taron a blue suit with ruby-red shoes on and ruby-red lapels, to represent Dorothy. The shirt is made of silver fabric, for the Tin Man. He’s got a straw hat, for the Scarecrow, and a big fake fur coat for the Lion. There’s even a little emerald belt buckle, and Taron wore a small emerald earring, to represent the Emerald City.”

 

But, while it’s Egerton’s outfit, it’s Bell’s song to sing. “I get to sing ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’ at a point where Bernie and Elton have been apart for a time, and Bernie has come to check in on Elton,” says Bell. “Elton is just spinning, off the planet. He’s drinking a lot and has just turned mean. He’s lost himself and is so far removed from who he is. Even when he’s looking at Bernie, his steadfast friend, he can’t even see the forest for the trees anymore.”

 

The scene sees the pair meet in a fancy restaurant, for a dinner that will go disastrously. “There’s this beat where the music kicks in,” says Bell, “and the lyrics are, ‘When are you going to come down? When are you going to land?’ So, basically, Bernie is saying to Elton, ‘When are you going to get off this roller coaster? When is it going to stop? When are you going to face up to the fact that you have some issues and that you have to deal with them, before they kill you?’ Bernie storms out of the restaurant as he’s singing and it’s really the moment where we know – oh, wow – this relationship is coming to an end. And it’s sad. Bernie gets in a cab and drives away and there is a feeling of tragedy that the song allows. It’s a moment where Bernie thinks, ‘I’ve tried to save my friend, and I don’t think I can.’ The song expresses a failure for him in some ways.”

 

What is the Yellow Brick Road? What does it represent? Is it the entertainment industry as a whole, or Taupin and John’s careers within it? “It can mean different things to different people,” reasons Bell. “The storytelling moment here is that Elton and Bernie both wanted to do something important with their lives, to change their circumstances. We can all connect with that in some way. When you get the thing you want, it can be very complicated. And how you deal with it can be complicated. And then, what if you lose the one thing that kind of keeps you grounded? Then, all bets are off...”

 

‘Rocket Man’
 

Appropriately, given that it is ROCKETMAN’s title track, the moment that the song that drives the movie arrives is one for the ages. As Martin himself says of the achievement, “The song ‘Rocket Man’ starts in the bottom of a swimming pool and ends up in a stadium. I guess that’s a bold statement.”

 

“You don’t really think of ‘Rocket Man’ as being a stadium song. But we’ve kind of thrown the kitchen sink at it,” says Martin. “There’s a 50-piece choir and a 100-piece orchestra on it. It’s become this huge thing. And we haven’t done these things for the sake of doing these things. We’ve done them for the sake of it being fun, a good listen and good to watch. Ultimately, I don’t think we get points for bravery, I think we get points for entertainment.”

 

Fletcher marvels at the memory of making the moment. In the movie, it’s a sequence where Egerton’s John, depressed and having taken an overdose, plunges himself into a swimming pool at a party. Which is great to read on paper, but quite something else to execute in reality. “Put it this way,” says Fletcher. “I am extremely proud of Taron being able to perform a song on his back, at the bottom of a 15-meter water tank. It really is something to behold.”

 

For Furnish, ’Rocket Man’ is the ideal metaphor for a man at the peak of his powers, who has never felt more alone. “At that time in his life, Elton was the biggest star in the world,” says the producer. “His rocket was fully in ascension and he was orbiting through the universe, but he was also feeling increasingly isolated and incredibly lonely and starting to feel really detached from everyday life. Real love and real connection were becoming harder and harder and more elusive for him. And this song, melodically and lyrically, captures that feeling so well. It fits because it's got all the anthemic qualities of that big moment in his life, but it also has the dramatic isolation that Elton can sometimes feel, despite all the success and everything that's happening around him. Basically, it’s the perfect mix of music and movie. I can’t wait for people to see it.”

 

 

PART 4: THE CREW

 

Building Captain Fantastic
HOW TO REDESIGN AN ICON, BY THE PEOPLE WHO DID


The costumes, the choreography, the hair & make-up and the production design
that brought the legend of Elton John to life in ROCKETMAN

 

 

Julian Day, Costume Designer


Costume designers, like any of us, have good days and they have bad days. Then they have days, as Julian Day experienced, when they get called up and asked if they’d be interested in designing the costumes for a movie about Elton John, a man known to have something of a penchant for, well, the most outlandish, extravagant and plain brilliant stage costumes ever created.

 

“It’s one of those genuinely ‘pinch yourself’ moments,” says Julian Day of the day he was offered the opportunity to be in charge of the costumes for ROCKETMAN, “that’s not difficult to say yes to.”

 

Day is a veteran of 58 movies now, but he’s also no stranger to those about musical icons. With Bohemian Rhapsody (about Freddie Mercury), Nowhere Boy (about John Lennon) and Control (about Joy Division’s Ian Curtis), already under his belt, ROCKETMAN presented an entirely new level of design. “With this, Dexter wanted me to push the musical fantasy as far as I could go, so that then he could pull back,” explains Day. “It was never about reproducing the same outfits Elton wore, but my interpretation of them. It was never about being half-hearted. The full gamut of stage wear and extravagance is explored here. This is genuinely an escapist musical with the audience immediately pulled into big musical numbers and drama going through many different periods. I hope people come out of the cinema with a smile. It is a roller coaster of a film. People are not going to have a moment to breathe.”

 

The opportunity to pay tribute to one of his all-time favorite singers only got more surreal when, to prepare for ROCKETMAN, Day found himself invited to visit John’s personal archives, an experience he describes as being a bit like being in that giant warehouse at the end of Raiders Of The Lost Ark, “only a bit more glittery”.

 

“Just being there was amazing, obviously,” says Day. “But of all of it, I was most amazed by how much detail there was in each piece.” After the visit, Day returned to the studio, to start making his versions of John’s classics, to appear in the film. “Then Elton came to look at the studio and the sets,” says Day with a grin, “and I presented all the concept costume drawings and he loved them, which was a big relief. If Sir Elton likes the clothes, then there are not that many people who can dispute that. His favorite was the Queen Elizabeth costume that we used in the film for an Australian concert. In reality, he never wore a Queen Elizabeth costume, but he did wear a Louis XIV. But that’s the thing with this movie – it’s a fantasy. We didn’t want to repeat what had been already seen, it had to fit into our film. We wanted to create our own look, not necessarily a different Elton, just our Elton.”

 

Day’s success in doing so didn’t just go noticed by the man himself, but the man playing him. “What Julian has done is have one eye on the actual Elton outfit, and one eye on putting his own spin on them,” says Egerton. “And for me as an actor, where it is about trying to take ownership of a behemoth of a character, that is hugely helpful. If you look at every single one of these costumes, it is a moment of Elton’s life and it’s a moment that Julian has helped me recreate.”

 

Some costumes, like the one John wore at his seminal gig at the Dodger Stadium in ’75, Day simply pimped, the original’s sequins replaced with actual crystals, for some added sparkle. Others, like the ‘Devil’ costume – a bright orange, skin-tight ensemble featuring both horns and angel wings – are entirely new creations; that one in particular dreamed up one night after, presumably, Day had overdosed on too much cheese.

 

There were issues, not least in Day’s reimagining of the outfit John wore for his debut at The Troubadour that Day took glorious license with, but that Egerton still claims, “made my bum look big.” And then there was the fact that – how to put this – “I always felt more comfortable with less clothes on,” says Egerton. “Although Elton has been about layering up to a certain extent for me, it was nice to find a language that was very Elton but not as encumbering and didn’t feel too heavy. For Elton daywear, it was nice to have a bit of breathing room, something that made me feel sexy. We put me in quite a few shorts. Dexter took a little convincing with the hot pants. But they worked. It’s an empowerment thing with those skimpier numbers and the abandon of it. The kind of shedding of some of the more conservative tropes. I always pushed to be as naked as possible.”

 

For Egerton, one of his most favorite of Day’s costumes is the bird-like ensemble he wears at the Royal Albert Hall, just when John is beginning to have an acute sense that things are not all quite well with his world. “That’s a good example of a particular storytelling moment,” says Day. “I got the size of the corridor because the costume needed to be too big for the space, to give the idea of Elton being hemmed in, of being too big for the space.”

 

Those outlandish costumes may well have come at a price – Day estimates that Egerton has been through more than 30 fittings with him, and each of those with at least 10 outfits to go through – but without them Egerton couldn’t have found the mojo he needed to properly take on this role of a lifetime. “Elton’s costumes are, of course, incredibly ‘out there’,” says Egerton. “Which is the opposite of many of the insecurities he feels inside. I think it’s quite moving seeing someone make themselves look stylish and very cool and cutting edge, but also have that element of absurdity whilst in genuine pain. That whole idea is very moving. There’s someone sending themselves up as they are suffering. I wanted to throw myself into it rather wholeheartedly. I love Elton’s aesthetic and its outlandishness and otherworldliness. The whole process for me has been submitting myself to it.”

 

As for the ‘devil’ costume, it was the first of the more than 60 that Day designed for the movie. It came to him that night seemingly out of nowhere, but its impact when he shared his concept sketches of it with his colleagues was immediate. “That costume reflects the struggle between light and dark that exists within Elton’s story,” says Egerton. “I spend a lot of the movie in this costume as Elton recounting his life while in the rehab clinic. That costume is a little like armor for Elton to begin the healing process, but the more comfortable he grows, he starts to take things off and his armor drops away. By the end he is in a fluffy, warm dressing gown with nothing but his glasses on, which it’s kind of symbolic of his own growth through that process.”

 

“But the most important part of this costume, for me,” adds Egerton, “is a small detail. At the start (of the production), Julian said my ear had to be pierced for the film. And when Elton heard that I’d done that, he gave me his first ever diamond earring as a gift. I asked Julian if I could wear it with this look. It felt appropriate because it is heart-shaped. Julian kindly let me do that.”

 

“That is because the heart-shape (of that earring) is an important element to this costume,” says Day. “This scene becomes ultimately about the idea that Elton is really just looking for love.” Egerton smiles at the memory. “The last thing that Julian was considering was what to put in my ear. And it fell into our lap from the big man himself, so, low and behold, it all fell into place. It felt fated that Elton would give me that earring and it would end up as part of the costume that I spend most of the film in.”

 

But perhaps the most telling stamp of approval on the costumes came from the man who wore the original versions in the first place. “I was delighted with what Julian did with the costumes,” John says. “For me, wearing those original costumes was always about empowerment. I wasn’t allowed to wear fashionable clothes when I was a young kid. So, when I left home and moved in with Bernie and we got a flat, I started to wear more outrageous things. But it comes, I think, from the desire to put on a performance. That’s a very British thing. There aren’t many American acts that did that. The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Kinks, The Who, David Bowie, T. Rex, Rod Stewart, they come from a huge line of people, who, I think, because of British vaudeville and musicals, and the idea to show off and put on a show, felt the need to do that. Mick Jagger wore the most beautiful things. Bowie wore the most beautiful things. Marc Bolan was the first person I knew who wore mascara. Whereas me, I was sat at a piano, so I wasn’t moving around the stage. For years I was jealous of that, I wanted some freedom. I’m stuck at a nine-foot plank. To me, it was wanting to be visual, too. And I loved it. As I did more of it, Bernie didn’t like it so much, and the more outrageous it got, I think he liked it even less. But, for me, it was part and parcel. When I do a show, even now, 20 minutes before I go on, I choose my outfit. And then when I put my outfit on, I'm in the part. It’s like going to battle.”

 

Lizzie Georgiou, Hair & Make-up Designer

 

There can’t be many better compliments for a hair and make-up designer than the one Lizzie Georgiou received the day the first ever images of Taron Egerton – the star she had spent months moulding into Elton John – first hit the internet. Just a few minutes after they were first released, her phone pinged with a text message. “It was from Elton,” Georgiou laughs, “saying that he thought the pictures were actually of him.”

 

They weren’t, of course, but such is the level of technique of Georgiou and her crew, not even the man himself could tell the difference. Getting to this point, though, has not been without its ups and downs. Georgiou was the person who finally convinced Egerton to shave the front of his hairline for the role, for practicality’s sake more than anything. “I had to shave his hair quite far up,” she says with a wince. “He did fight it for a while, but when he realized how long it would take in the make-up chair every day if he didn’t, he was a big, brave boy.” She also fixed his teeth.

 

“We did clear a mouth guard that had the little gaps in the teeth that Taron felt was an essential part of his character, but Dexter was worried that it might cause him to lisp a bit and it could make live singing harder,” says Georgiou. “But Taron was desperate to keep the gaps, so in the end we ended up painting the gaps in, lost the mouth guard and used a tattoo ink they’ve made especially for teeth. It looks like his teeth aren’t straight but it’s actually just a little bit of paint.”

 

“Through the dance you’ve got to show the emotion of Elton, and so too with the hair & make-up and the costumes and everything,” says Georgiou. “They are all gelled together to take you through the emotions. Every dance routine is a transition for Elton growing or going through a different stage of his life, and in those make-up transitions it helps us carry him forward another five years down the line or so, so we can tell the story without sort of doing deep cuts.”

 

And, once Egerton had gotten over that hair-shaving, Georgiou found a more than willing partner in presenting audiences with the most authentic Elton John they could ever imagine. “Taron threw himself into the transformation,” says Georgiou. “He would come into the make-up bus and sit in the chair and do his warm-ups and practice his singing. By the time he came out of the chair, we’d all be singing along.”

 

Crucially, for ROCKETMAN, Georgiou wasn’t just tasked with producing one Elton John, but many. “We’ve had to put Taron through prosthetics, and balding looks and rougher looks from when Elton reaches his lowest ebb,” says Georgiou. “We’ve done handsome Elton, and really young, fashionable, sexy Elton to Elton becoming drug-fueled and not being able to cope with that and then going into rehab. Then we’ve done the Elton who comes out the other side as well.”

 

If other actors on the movie were easier to get ready for the cameras – “Richard Madden just stays dashing and handsome throughout,” laughs Georgiou – she remains in awe of how ROCKETMAN’s leading man embraced his many changes. “It’s been a real journey,” she says. “And Taron was up for going the whole hog. Once he did that it was uncanny how much he looks like Elton. When you sit with him up-close, he looks like Taron, but when you get him in front of the camera, he just becomes Elton.”

 

Adam Murray, Choreographer


Together with music producer Giles Martin, it was choreographer Adam Murray who brought to life the series of stunning song and dance sequences that give ROCKETMAN its propulsive heartbeat. “The story and the scenes are what ground the film,” Murray says. “But the musical numbers are there to heighten any element of emotion the story is telling through the songs.”

 

And, when it comes to heightening, few are better qualified than the man who brought to life one of modern cinema’s most previously pumping soundtracks, the ‘80s tub-thumper that was Ready Player One, for no less than Steven Spielberg.

 

For ROCKETMAN, Murray has delivered some enormous numbers that would make the classic MGM musicals blush. One, set to ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’, was a creation that took 300 extras, 50 dancers and 12 weeks of prep to make real. “And then, having rehearsed it to perfection,” remembers Murray, “the sequence gathered mothballs while the bulk of the film was being made. Then, when it came to actually shooting it, we had just one day to re-rehearse it before it went in front of the cameras.”

 

If that wasn’t challenging enough, consider this: the sequence in question didn’t just have hundreds of individual moving parts, it had to be achieved in one single, seamless take. “Everyone needs to be in the right place, at the right time, on the right beat, or the sequence is lost,” says Murray. That the production would get that one shot in the can in just 19 takes is testament to Murray’s prowess and preparation.

 

Murray was on board with the production early in its conception, so was able to build the structure of these numbers from the ground up, to find ways to use Elton John’s music out of context and in a way that best served a narrative that, to put it mildly, has its fair share of ups and downs. “This has genuinely been a true collaboration,” says Murray of the evolving process. “We’ve all come together as a team and really bounced off one another. The result is seamless. The dance numbers have become a part of the structure of the script. They don’t sit out as a separate entity; they are finely knitted into the film. You don’t know when they start and when they finish. When you hear the music, sometimes you hear part of a song and you’ve not even realized what it is until you get to the middle of the song and you’re like, ‘Oh my god, this is ‘Your Song’ or ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting’.”

 

When it came to that acclaimed Elton John songbook, that was where Murray says his job on ROCKETMAN was made very easy indeed, “because lyrically and musically the songs are genius, so everything is already moving in the right direction”. But that free rein to reinvent the songs to suit the story also meant that the many dance numbers could take on a life of their own, to create arrangements that weren’t originally in them, to produce something entirely new.

 

“We had to open them up,” is how Murray describes this process to shine a new light on an icon the world feels it knows but may not, yet, fully understand. “All the songs you know and love are still rooted in what they are,” the Choreographer says. “They do transport you emotionally and move you. But the fact that we’ve not been confined means we can take it to another level.”

 

All of which means that, as much as you think you may be ready to see ROCKETMAN’s portrayal of Elton John, the truth is that this is a movie that will still blindside you, that will make you understand the man in a whole new way.

 

“That’s the rarity of what we’re doing,” says Murray. “We are telling somebody’s story who is still alive, and still working at the top of his game. We are honoring someone who is going to actually sit there and watch this story back. So, you know, let’s have him be as blown away as any other audience member out there.”

 

Marcus Rowland, Production Designer

 

Production Designer Marcus Rowland has got quality UK credentials pumping through his veins, making him the perfect person to bring to life this most British of icons. Blooded, specifically, on the work of Edgar Wright, all the way through from Wright’s brilliant TV debut, Spaced, to his, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s famed ‘Cornetto Trilogy’ of Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz and The World’s End, Rowland has been adding English authenticity to the country’s greatest exports for nearly two decades. Although it was his last movie with Wright, the acclaimed box office smash Baby Driver, that put him most in the driving seat to bring to life the journey of Reginald Dwight to the Elton John we all know and love.

 

“Baby Driver gave me a terrific grounding in the musicality that was needed on ROCKETMAN,” Rowland explains. “It came in massively useful when it came to designing the sets for this – that understanding of the fluidity and authenticity that was needed.”

 

This story also gave Rowland a “wonderful” creative liberty, the fact that it at once needs to feel real and a few degrees removed from reality enabling him to have fun with an already tantalizing brief. “The freedom of that brief was to create something not too weathered, not too period,” he says. “To be more imaginative – jumping off Elton John’s particular style and creating a fantasy based around what his incredible music inspires. We always wanted to twist the dial a bit and make it more extreme than reality. It’s exuberant because the narrative is of Elton looking back on what happened. It’s intrinsically his recollection, from his mind’s eye, so we’ve allowed his imagination to steer us to be much more vibrant and dramatic with what we’ve done.”

 

As far as Fletcher is concerned, the results of Rowland’s build have been nothing short of magical. “Marcus has realized all of the moments of Elton’s life brilliantly,” Fletcher says. “And that’s an amazing achievement. There isn’t one set in the film that looks like a set. And when you think that we span four decades, from the ‘50s to the ‘80s, that’s astonishing. I dare anyone to figure out what is a set and what isn’t in ROCKETMAN.”

 

Ever humble, Rowland says of his work that, “certain bits of the film are more historically accurate than others, but overall it’s more of a flavor of his life story.” But it is in fact far more than that. For ROCKETMAN, Rowland and his team have recreated everything from the original London pub Reginald Dwight performed in to Mama Cass’ house, a pitch-perfect recreation of LA’s The Troubadour, the Dodger Stadium, and a bacchanalian New York nightclub in the ‘70s in which Elton John will descend the very seven levels of Hell.

 

“It was a deliberate policy to make the sets all very exciting and reflect the tone of what’s being told at the particular point in the story,” Rowland says of his vision. “Dexter let us go free as well. He wanted it to be edgy and exciting, and to capture Elton’s flamboyance. He wanted to even have some slight excess.” He laughs. “And I like to think that on that front we have more than delivered.”

 

 

 

PART 5: CAST & FILMMAKER BIOS

 

 

TARON EGERTON (Elton John), known for his breakout role in Matthew Vaughn’s KINGSMAN film series, continues to capture audience members attention with his versatile & charismatic performances.

   

Egerton will next be seen in Dexter Fletcher’s ROCKETMAN starring as the iconic singer Sir Elton John for Paramount Pictures. The film will follow the singer’s journey from his days at the Royal Academy of Music to his induction on the prestigious Rock N’ Roll Hall of fame. Not only does Egerton star in the film he also performs all of the songs. Sir Elton John & David Furnish serve as producers. The film also stars Jamie Bell and Richard Madden. 

 

Raised in Wales, the BAFTA nominated actor graduated in 2012 from the renown Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts with a BA in Acting. He went on to make his acting debut with a small role in two episodes of ITV’s INSPECTOR LEWIS before being cast in the TV mini-series THE SMOKE. Shortly after, he was cast in his breakout role as Eggsy in KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE & reprised his role in “Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Other credits include, ROBIN HOOD, TESTAMENT OF YOUTH, LEGEND, and EDDIE THE EAGLE. In 2016, he played the voice of Johnny in Garth Jennings’s animation comedy SING, which became a box office sensation.

 

Egerton took home the award for Action Star of the Year this year at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. He has gained recognition and respect from the BAFTA Awards being nominated for the Rising Star Award. In addition, he has received praise from the London Film Festival, Empire Awards UK and Teen Choice Awards.

 

 

While still a teenager, JAMIE BELL (Bernie Taupin) shot to worldwide fame starring in the title role of Stephen Daldry’s BILLY ELLIOT. He received the BAFTA Award for Best Actor and the British Independent Film Award for Best Newcomer for his performance in the film. Bell then went onto portray Smike in Douglas McGrath’s screen adaptation of Charles Dickens’ NICHOLAS NICKLEBY, for which he and his colleagues shared the National Board of Review Award for Best Acting by an Ensemble.

           

Bell will next star opposite Taron Egerton and Richard Madden in ROCKETMAN, a musical fantasy about the uncensored human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years.

 

Bell will also star in SKIN, a biographical drama by Guy Nattiv about a white supremacist who turns his back on hatred and violence to transform his life. The film premiered at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival with high praises for Bell’s performance. A24 and DirecTV will release the film on July 26, 2019.

 

In February 2019, Bell starred in IFC Films’ indie thriller DONNYBROOK, opposite Frank Grillo, adapted from Frank Bill’s the novel of the same name. The film is written and directed by Tim Sutton and follows a former soldier who competes against a violent drug dealer in a bare-knuckle brawl for a large cash prize.

 

In December 2017, Bell starred as Peter Turner opposite Annette Bening in FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL, directed by Paul McGuigan. The film is adapted from the memoir by real life Turner; it earned Bell a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Actor, as well as the New Hollywood Actor Award at the 2017 Hollywood Film Awards. The Sony Pictures Classic film had its world premiere at the 2017 Telluride Film Festival, and subsequent premieres at Toronto International Film Festival and BFI London Film Festival, among others.

 

In 2015, Bell appeared in FANTASTIC FOUR as Ben Grimm, alongside Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan and Kate Mara. The film was released on August 7, 2015 and premiered in over 70 countries.

 

In June 2014, Bell appeared in Joon-ho Bong’s SNOWPIERCER opposite Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton. The film premiered as the opening night film for the 2014 Los Angeles Film Festival and also premiered at the 2014 BAMCinemaFest. Bell also starred in John Baird's FILTH opposite James McAvoy, Eddie Marsan and Imogen Poots.

 

In April 2014, Bell appeared in Lars Von Trier’s NYMPHOMANIAC: VOLUME II alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf and Willem Dafoe. The film is a continuation of Joe’s (Gainsbourg) sexually dictated life that delves into the darker aspects of her adulthood, obsessions and what led to her being in Seligman’s (Skarsgard) care.

 

In 2012, Bell starred in Asger Leth’s MAN ON A LEDGE, opposite Sam Worthington and Ed Harris. The film was about a police psychologist who works to talk down an ex-con that is threatening to jump from a Manhattan hotel rooftop, while the biggest diamond heist is being committed in London.

 

In December 2011, Bell played the titular role in Steven Spielberg's motion capture 3D THE ADVENTURES OF TINTIN: THE SECRET OF THE UNICORN, as Hergé’s legendary young adventurer. The film premiered at the 2011 AFI Film Festival. That same year, Bell starred in Kevin Macdonald's THE EAGLE, Cary Fukunaga’s JANE EYRE and Carl Tibbetts’ THE RETREAT.

 

Bell’s additional film credits include: Toa Fraser’s 6 DAYS, David Gordon Green’s UNDERTOW; Thomas Vinterberg’s DEAR WENDY; Peter Jackson’s epic KING KONG; Clint Eastwood’s acclaimed FLAGS OF OUR FATHERS, in which he portrayed real-life WWII hero Ralph Ignatowski; David Mackenzie’s HALLAM FOE (a.k.a. MISTER FOE), for which he earned a British Independent Film Award nomination and a BAFTA (Scotland) Award for Best Actor; Arie Posin’s THE CHUMSCRUBBER; Doug Liman’s JUMPER; and Edward Zwick’s DEFIANCE.

 

On the small screen, Bell starred in all four seasons of AMC’s TURN: WASHINGTON’S SPIES from 2014-2017 as the lead role of Abe Woodhull, who bands together with a group of childhood friends to form The Culper Ring, an unlikely group of spies who turn the tide in America’s fight for independence.

 

Bell currently resides in Los Angeles.

 

 

RICHARD MADDEN (John Reid) is a Scottish actor best known for his award winning portrayal of David Budd in Jed Mecurio's BODYGUARD. The series aired Fall 2018 and became the BBC's most-watched drama of the past 10 years. The finale drew 14.3 million and to date, it has been the BBC's most popular iPlayer set ever - with over 36 million viewing requests. The show was acquired by Netflix and released worldwide on October 24. Madden received a Golden Globe and a National Television Award for his performance as well as a nomination for a Critics Choice Television Award.

 

Up next, Madden will be seen in Dexter Fletcher’s ROCKETMAN. The Elton John biopic, in which he portrays John Reid opposite Taron Egerton, will be released by Paramount on May 31. Shortly thereafter, he will begin production on the upcoming film 1917 opposite Benedict Cumberbatch, Colin Firth and Mark Strong.  The film, directed by Sam Mendes, follows young British soldiers on a single day at the height of World War I.

 

Madden first gained notoriety for his compelling role of Robb Stark in the award winning HBO series GAME OF THRONES. Following this, he achieved critical acclaim in the Discovery Channel miniseries KLONDIKE.

 

In 2015, he starred in Kenneth Branagh’s live-action CINDERELLA in the leading role of Prince Charming, opposite Lily James. The film went on to gross over $500 million at the worldwide box office. The following year, he reunited with Branagh and James for Romeo and Juliet in London’s West End.

 

He has since been seen in BBC’s LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER, Netflix’s IBIZA, Amazon’s anthology series ELECTRIC DREAMS, THE TAKE opposite Idris Elba and Netflix’s MEDICI: MASTERS OF FLORENCE.

 

 

BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD (Sheila Farebrother) continues to be a versatile and dynamic talent, both on-screen and behind the camera. Howard will next be seen in Paramount’s ROCKETMAN, produced by Matthew Vaughn with Elton John and David Furnish, the biopic about the musical legend is set for release on May 31, 2019. As a filmmaker, Howard directed an episode of Lucasfilm and Disney’s highly-anticipated live-action Star Wars series, THE MANDALORIAN, which is due out this fall. She is also currently directing a feature-length documentary called DADS with Imagine Entertainment. Howard is reteaming with Octavia Spencer and Universal for the ensemble comedy FAIRY TALE, ENDING penned by Jim Hecht and Tracy McMillan. She will produce alongside Seth MacFarlane’s production company Fuzzy Door.

 

Recently, Howard lent her voice to Sony’s A DOG’S WAY HOME, from author W. Bruce  Cameron. Last year, Howard starred alongside Chris Pratt in Universal’s JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM, the sequel to the 2015 box office juggernaut JURASSIC WORLD. In 2017, Howard starred with Matthew McConaughey in Stephen Gaghan’s GOLD. The previous year, she starred in an episode of Netflix’s critically acclaimed series BLACK MIRROR. Howard’s episode ‘Nosedive,’ directed by Joe Wright, garnered her a 2017 SAG Award nomination in the category of Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Television Movie or Limited Series.

 

Other film credits include Disney’s PETE’S DRAGON alongside Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood’s HEREAFTER with Matt Damon, 50/50 opposite Seth Rogen and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tate Taylor’s award-winning screen adaptation of THE HELP as well as THE TWILIGHT SAGA: ECLIPSE; Tennessee Williams’ THE LOSS OF A TEARDROP DIAMOND; McG’s TERMINATOR SALVATION; Sam Raimi’s SPIDER MAN 3; M. Night Shyamalan’s LADY IN THE WATER; and Lars von Trier’s MANDERLAY. Bryce made her film debut in M. Night Shyamalan’s THE VILLAGE opposite Joaquin Phoenix. She also received a 2008 Golden Globe nomination for her performance as Rosalind in HBO’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s AS YOU LIKE IT, written and directed by Kenneth Branagh.

 

Howard has directed for multiple campaigns such as Canon’s PROJECT IMAGINATION, MoroccanOil’s INSPIRED, Vanity Fair’s DECADE SERIES with Radical Media, and Glamour Magazine’s REEL MOMENTS. Howard has also directed for MTV’s Supervideo: M83’s CLAUDIA LEWIS, Sony and Lifetime’s FIVE MORE: CALL ME CRAZY and SOLEMATES in conjunction with Canon’s “Project Imagination: The Trailer”, which screened at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival. With over a dozen short films under the belt, she has received numerous accolades for her work, including being shortlisted for an Oscar in 2012 for her half hour film WHEN YOU FIND ME. Howard also produced the Sony Classics film RESTLESS starring Mia Wasikowska with director Gus Van Sant. RESTLESS was featured as part of the 2011 Toronto Film Festival and opened the 2011 Cannes Film Festival Un Certain Regard selection.

 

Leaving the Tisch School of the Arts program at New York University to perform on the New York stage, Howard starred in the Roundabout’s Broadway production of Tartuffe, in the Public Theatre’s As You Like It, in the Manhattan Theater Club’s production of Alan Ayckbourn’s House/Garden and in the Bay Street Theater Festival’s production of Our Town.

 

Howard is the founder of Nine Muses Entertainment and is currently a guest lecturer crafting and teaching a new course at NYU Tisch School of the Arts within the Drama Department.

 

 

BAFTA-nominee DEXTER FLETCHER (Director) is a British actor turned director from London. He began his career at the age of 9 starring as Baby Face in Alan Parker’s BUGSY MALONE and Fletcher continued to work in the industry on screen for the next four decades, appearing on-screen alongside acting greats Al Pacino, Anthony Hopkins and Liam Neeson. Fletcher has worked with such distinguished visual directors as Derek Jarman (CARAVAGGIO), David Lynch (THE ELEPHANT MAN) and Guy Ritchie (LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS), all who helped him hone his own craft as a director.

 

In 2011 Fletcher made his directorial debut with WILD BILL, which he co-wrote. The film earned him a BAFTA nomination for Outstanding Debut and was a critical success; it currently holds a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Next, Fletcher directed the film adaptation of the Scottish stage musical SUNSHINE ON LEITH, based on the music of the Proclaimers. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and was extremely well received by critics and audiences alike.

 

In 2016 Fletcher directed EDDIE THE EAGLE, based on the real life story of ski jumper Eddie Edwards who competed in the 1988 Olympic games. The film, which had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, starred Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton. Later that year Fletcher was asked to take over directing duties on the Queen biopic BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. While uncredited, Fletcher took over the final weeks of production and post production for the Oscar nominated film, which became a massive success, grossing over $900 million. The film earned five Academy Award nominations and was awarded four Oscars including Best Actor for Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury. Fletcher’s latest film ROCKETMAN, a rock musical based on the life and career of Elton John, reunites him with star Taron Egerton as John. The film, which is produced by Matthew Vaughn, Elton John and David Furnish, will be released by Paramount Pictures in May 2019.Fletcher currently resides in London with his wife, acclaimed opera director Dalia Ibelhauptaitė.

 

MATTHEW VAUGHN (Producer), founder of production company MARV Films, is a maverick British filmmaker, specializing in genre-redefining films. His films have garnered over $2.6 billion at the global box office, making him one of Britain’s most successful and critically acclaimed independent filmmakers.

 

Vaughn began his career with LOCK, STOCK, AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS, directed by Guy Ritchie. The Ritchie and Vaughn partnership followed with SNATCH, which was a breakout critical and box-office hit. Vaughn made his directorial debut with LAYER CAKE, starring Daniel Craig and Tom Hardy. He followed this up with directing, producing, and co-writing STARDUST with Jane Goldman, based on the fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. In 2009 MARV Films produced HARRY BROWN, starring Michael Caine. 2010 saw Vaughn producing and writing THE DEBT and the start of the KICK-ASS franchise written, directed and produced by Vaughn, which introduced audiences to Chloe Grace Moretz. The film’s success led to KICK-ASS 2, produced by MARV in 2013. Vaughn and Goldman went on to write two very successful studio films: X-MEN: FIRST CLASS, also directed by Vaughn, and X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST.

 

In 2014, Vaughn launched the Kingsman film universe with KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE starring Colin Firth, Samuel L Jackson, and newcomer Taron Egerton. The film was a global smash and led to its sequel, KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE, also starring Julianne Moore, Jeff Bridges, Halle Berry, Channing Tatum and Elton John. Both films combined have grossed in excess of $820 million worldwide. MARV Films is currently in production with the third film in the series – the highly anticipated Kingsman origins story, whose ensemble stars Ralph Fiennes, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Djimon Hounsou, Charles Dance, Gemma Arterton, Rhys Ifans, Matthew Goode, Harris Dickinson, Stanley Tucci, Daniel Brühl, and Tom Hollander.

 

Vaughn teamed up with Egerton again for EDDIE THE EAGLE in 2016, co-starring Hugh Jackman, which told the story of one of Britain’s best-loved sports underdogs.

 

The Kingsman film universe has also built up a range of ground-breaking commercial partnerships such as the hugely successful Mr Porter bespoke Kingsman collection featuring Kingsman original tailoring. The 80+ piece collection has become one of Mr Porter’s top selling luxury brands.

 

 

As CEO of Rocket Entertainment and chairman of the Elton John Aids Foundation, Mr. DAVID FURNISH (Producer) is an entrepreneur with a global and strategic outlook occupying a unique intersection of philanthropy, film, music and theatre. He is also a huge advocate for fashion and is an ambassador to the Men’s London Fashion Council. A tireless campaigner, Mr. Furnish is a leading voice in the worldwide fight against HIV and AIDS. To date, the Elton John Aids Foundation has raised in excess of $450 million to fund prevention and treatment.

 

 

ADAM BOHLING (Producer) is an English film producer. Having worked in the British film industry for over 25 years, he has been an important part of the teams responsible for some of the UK’s most iconic and successful films.

 

He is known for producing such international hit films as the crime thriller LAYER CAKE; the superhero comedies KICK-ASS and KICK-ASS 2; the action adventure comedy KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE and its sequel KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE; the comedy drama EDDIE THE EAGLE; ROCKETMAN; and the currently filming THE KING’S MAN.

 

Adam is best known for his collaboration with director/producer Matthew Vaughn, which began with the hugely successful LOCK, STOCK & TWO SMOKING BARRELS, and SNATCH.

 

 

DAVID REID (Producer) is an English film producer. Having worked in the British film industry for over 25 years, he has been an important part of the teams responsible for some of the UK’s most iconic and successful films.

 

He is known for producing such international hit films as the crime thriller LAYER CAKE; the superhero comedies KICK-ASS and KICK-ASS 2; the action adventure comedy KINGSMAN: THE SECRET SERVICE and its sequel KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE; the comedy drama EDDIE THE EAGLE; ROCKETMAN; and the currently filming THE KING’S MAN.

 

David is best known for his collaboration with director/producer Matthew Vaughn, which began with the hugely successful LOCK, STOCK & TWO SMOKING BARRELS, and SNATCH.

 

 

Elton’s career achievements to date are unsurpassed in their breadth and longevity. ELTON JOHN (Executive Producer) is one of the top-selling solo artists of all time, with 38 gold records and 31 platinum and multi-platinum albums, over 50 Top 40 hits, and he has sold more than 300 million records worldwide. He holds the record for the biggest-selling single of all time, “Candle in the Wind 1997,” which sold over 33 million copies. ‘Diamonds’ the Ultimate Greatest Hits album, reached the Top 5 of the UK album charts on its release in November 2017, becoming Elton’s 40th UK Top 40 album in the process, reaching Gold status before the end of the year. This release celebrated 50 years of his songwriting partnership with Bernie Taupin. August 2018 saw Elton named as the most successful male solo artist in Billboard Hot 100 chart history, having logged 67 entries, including nine No. 1s and 27 Top 10s.

 

He has also written the music for stage and screen successes Billy Elliot: The Musical, Elton John and Tim Rice’s Aida, and THE LION KING, which was named the highest-grossing stage show or film release in the world. Elton announced the ‘Farewell Yellow Brick Road’ tour at New York’s Gotham Hall last year. Encompassing 5 continents, and over 300 dates, this 3-year-long tour started in September and marks his retirement from touring after more than 50 years on the road. To date, Elton has delivered more than 4,000 performances in more than 80 countries since launching his first tour in 1970. April 2018 saw the release of ‘Revamp’, an album of the world’s biggest musical stars covering some of Elton’s best loved Songs.  May 2019 sees the cinematic release of Rocketman, a fantastical musical based on Elton’s life

 

Among the many awards and honours bestowed upon him are five Grammy Awards including a Grammy Legend award, a Tony and an Oscar, a Best British Male Artist BRIT Award, induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, the Kennedy Center Honor, Legend of Live Award, 13 Ivor Novello Awards and a knighthood from HM Queen Elizabeth II for “services to music and charitable services.”

 

In 1992, Elton established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which today is one of the leading non-profit HIV/AIDS organisations and has raised over $450 million to date in the global fight against HIV/AIDS. In January 2018, he received the Crystal Award for this long- standing fight against HIV/AIDS at the World Economic Forum in Davos. At the 2018 International AIDS Conference in Amsterdam, Sir Elton John and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, announced the launch of the MenStar Coalition; an over $1.2 billion global partnership, that seeks to engage men in new and innovative ways to break the cycle of HIV transmission and ultimately end the AIDS epidemic by 2030.

 

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